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MPs to decide if babies can have three parents

Would you change your DNA to make sure your child was healthy?


A decision by MPs today could see Britain become the first country in the world to permit the creation of IVF babies with DNA from three different people.

MPs are set to vote on a controversial amendment to the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

It’s a move that would allow women to have children without passing on serious and incurable diseases of the mitochondria, tiny power generators found in almost every cell.

Dr David King, from Human Genetics Alert, said: “This is not about protecting embryos but about protecting children from the severe health risks of these unnecessary techniques.”

He added: “The public has been grossly misled about both the science and the ethics of these techniques by their advocates. Mitochondrial are not ‘just batteries’. The choice is not about allowing the techniques or allowing babies to suffer.”

A change in law would mean mitochondrial donation techniques aimed at preventing serious inherited diseases will be legalised.

According to research it could potentially help almost 2,500 women.

The technique has already been cleared by scientific and ethics watchdogs.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, the UK’s biggest research charity, said: “The Government is right to ask Parliament to support regulations that will allow the law to catch up with public and scientific opinion.

“We urge MPs and peers to vote for them.”

Mitochondrial diseases tend to strike in childhood and get steadily worse.

The parts of the body that need most energy are worst affected: the brain, muscles, heart and liver.

If politicians vote it through, then the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is expected to give Newcastle University a licence to carry out the procedure.

The first attempt could take place this year, which could lead to the first birth of a three-parent baby in 2016.

BUT, critics argue that the procedure amounts to creating ‘designer babies.’

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