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SPUC condemns HFEA approval of three-parent babies

15 December 2016

 

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has condemned the decision made by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) today to permit the creation of "three-parent embryos", saying that the technique undermines respect for human life and reproduction, and raises very serious safety concerns.

Bioethicist Dr Anthony McCarthy, of SPUC, said:

"It comes as little surprise that the HFEA has approved the creation of 'three-parent' embryos given their track record of undermining respect for the human embryo and the integrity of human reproduction. The two techniques which the HFEA has decided to permit are not curative of mitochondrial diseases and in no way help those who already have them.

"One technique, Pronuclear Transfer, destroys two human embryos by removing the nuclear material from an embryo with faulty mitochondria, whose life is ended, and creating a new embryo by placing this nuclear material into the shell of a second embryo who is also destroyed," Dr McCarthy continued. "The fact that there are now calls in Newcastle for egg donors - in practice, to produce healthy embryos solely for spare parts - tells us much about attitudes to women used to produce embryos this way, and harms and endangers us all."

"The other technique, Maternal Spindle Transfer, uses a donor egg which is enucleated and then given the nucleus from the egg of the woman with the mitochondrial condition, such that when the egg is fertilised an embryo is formed, it is hoped free from disease (this embryo has 'three parents' as the donor egg is from a mother who makes a genetic contribution to the embryo). While no embryos need be destroyed in the technique itself, the new life has come to be through a production process which fragments maternity and will in practice be subject to quality-control."

Dr McCarthy concluded: "Finally, it is worth noting that there are very serious safety concerns about these techniques, which may well pass on new genetic problems to future generations. Such concerns have been raised many times by authoritative voices in the scientific community and elsewhere. The HFEA, as well as undermining respect for human life and reproduction, continues to show a reckless attitude to the safety of the society it is supposed to serve."

 

Notes to Editors

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