RC Bishop: Creation of GM babies ‘violates human dignity’

The creation of genetically-modified children ‘reduces the gift of life to technical manipulation’, the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has said.

Bishop John Sherrington – the Conference’s lead spokesman for life issues – described the announcement that three-parent babies have been born in the UK as “deeply concerning”.

Last week, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) confirmed that “less than five” GM babies have been created by scientists in the UK since controversial procedures were legalised in 2015.

Newcastle laboratory

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations allow the creation of three or four-parent children in cases involving mitochondrial disease using a technique known as ‘mitochondrial donation’.

The procedure involves fertilising two eggs with the father’s sperm – one from the prospective mother, and one from a donor with healthy mitochondria.

Genetic nuclear material in the donor’s egg is then replaced by that from the parents’ fertilised egg, resulting in a child with DNA from three parents.

GM babies with 3 or 4 parents

GM babies with 3 or 4 parents

Calum MacKellar

Should scientists be allowed to create genetically modified children who have three – or even four – parents? The Government wants to let scientists go ahead.

Dignity and respect

Bishop Sherrington said: “The technique depends on the destruction of two human lives who had inherent dignity and rights, and must be protected from their creation as persons, in order to create a third embryo and life.”

Furthermore, he continued, the procedure “fractures the child from biological parenthood” and “steps into the unknown world of genetic engineering with manipulation of the human germline”.

The Bishop concluded: “The gift of life, to be respected and treated with dignity from conception to natural death, is a mystery which cannot be reduced to technical manipulation.”

Unknown effects

The UK was the first country in the world to approve laws allowing the use of IVF mitochondrial donation.

The Christian Institute has long warned that problems with the technique may only arise decades from now, as it requires changing the human germline.

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Also see:

Baby born with three genetic parents in GM first

Scientist plans to create ‘mini-me’ embryos for harvesting organs

Creation of monkey-human embryos opens ‘Pandora’s box’

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