Case study - 'three parent IVF'

Scientists have developed a technique called 'three parent IVF' to correct mitochondrial diseases, thereby preventing possible death after birth. This technique uses genetic material from a donor to correct certain conditions found in embryos. The technique is not currently allowed in the UK, but the government has recently given its backing and it could become legal soon.

People who would benefit from the treatment say that it would end the heartbreak caused by children dying shortly after birth. They argue that we are a mixture of many different sets of DNA anyway, and that any potential risks of the treatment are outweighed by the risks of having a child with a mitochondrial disease. They welcome the opportunity to have a child who is genetically their own.

People who oppose the treatment may say that it involves the DNA of the child being permanently altered. This means that doctors are changing the nature of the child and its potential descendants. The worry is that this will open the door to more controversial scientific practices and uncertain outcomes in the future.

For reflection and discussion

Some Christians will find three parent IVF acceptable. Describe one religious teaching that they may refer to in order to back up their argument. Describe a different teaching that they may use to argue against it.

Treatments like this are not mentioned in the Bible. How would a Christian decide how to respond to three parent IVF treatment?

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