House of Commons vote in favour of three-parent-babies in historic debate.

Members of Parliament voted in favour of IVF babies with DNA from two women and one man. The final tally was 382 for, and 128 against. Before the procedure becomes legalised, it will need to be passed through the House of Lords. If, as assumed, the House of Lords vote in favour, women who have inheritable mitochondrial disease will now have the option of transferring their egg’s nucleus into a donor cell effectively eliminating the threat of passing on the disease.

As a matter of science, this is a beautifully neat application of technology. However, the procedure has been met with opposition on ethical grounds.

Graphic explaining the 'three-person baby' technique from the Independent.

Graphic explaining the ‘three-person baby’ technique from the Independent.

The argument against was led by Conservative MP Fiona Bruce: “I believe the regulations before us today fail on both counts, ethics and safety, and they are inextricably interlinked. One of these procedures we are asked to approve today, pronuclear transfer, involves the deliberate creation and destruction of at least two human embryos, and probably in practice many more, in order to create a third embryo which it is hoped will be free from human mitochondrial disease.

“Are we happy to sacrifice two early human lives to make a third?”

In contrast, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said: “This is a bold step for parliament to take, but it is a considered and informed step. 

“This is world leading science within a highly respected regulatory regime.

“And for the many families affected, this is light at the end of a very dark tunnel.”

Professor Doug Turnbull led the team that pioneered the procedure at Newcastle University, said:

“This is an important hurdle in the development of this new IVF technique, but we still have the debate in the House of Lords, and importantly the licensing by the HFEA.

“Finally, I think the quality of the debate today shows what a robust scientific, ethical and legislative procedure we have in the UK for IVF treatments.

“This is important and something the UK should rightly be proud of.”

Prime Minister David Cameron refuted the claims that we were in danger of ‘playing God’ and one step closer to designer babies with this treatment. He made his stance clear in an interview with LBC radio:

“This is something that can be done and something that I think from all the research and evidence it is not playing God with nature this is much more like a kidney donation or a lung donation rather than some sort of fundamental change that is being made.

“Those arguing for the change pointing out that this is not an absolutely fundamental issue of designer babies it’s about dealing with a problem.

“It’s not a huge number of parents but those who are affected know that the technology is there to allow them to have healthy children so we need to make this change.”

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