Three Parent Families: The Ethical and Legal Issues Raised by Advances in Assisted Reproductive Technologies.

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

Three Parent Families: The Ethical and Legal Issues Raised by Advances in Assisted Reproductive Technologies. Three Parent Families: The Ethical and Legal Issues Raised by Advances in Assisted Reproductive Technologies. Three Parent Families: The Ethical and Legal Issues Raised by Advances in Assisted Reproductive Technologies A baby boy with three biological parents just born after being conceived in Mexico, so read the headline in MIT Technology Review in September 2016 (Reilly, 2016). The babys birth, the first live birth of a child using a new technique known as mitochondrial donation (mtD), represents a new paradigm in assisted reproductive technologies. At the same time, it raises complex legal and policy issues that need to be urgently addressed. mtD allows women with mitochondrial diseases (MD)for the first timeto give birth to healthy, and disease free, babies. The technique is one of a suite of advanced technologies that can be employed by medical practitioners today. mtD is, however, one of the most controversial for two reasons: mtD allows the directed modification of an embryos genome, and babies born as a result of mtD contain the DNA of three individuals (the father, the mother, and the donor of the healthy mitochondrial DNA). Central to the technology, therefore, are complex and challenging legal, ethical and moral questions relating to germline modification and what it means to be a parent. This project seeks to examine the novel ethical, policy and legal challenges posed by mtD within the United States (US). It does so against a backdrop in which the United Kingdom (UK) amended legislation in 2015 to allow for the use of mtD after engaging in very public, and intense, debates over the complex moral, ethical and political questions raised by mtD. In contrast, the US Congress has expressly prohibited the federal government from using funds to handle applications for experiments that genetically alter human embryos (Achenbach, 2016), and the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) have stated that mtD should be used only in rare cases, with extreme care and high regulatory oversight, and initially only used on male embryos (NAS, 2016). What does extreme care mean here? What would, or could, a regulatory framework look like? What are the potential benefits and risksto women with MD, children born through mtD, their families and society more generallyand what actions could be taken to mitigate such risks? And how do we begin to reconcile the notion of three parent families? Unlike the UK experience, there has been very limited discourse on what this means within the US landscape. This project will examine the complex questions that mtD gives rise to, as framed by the broader history of assisted reproductive technologies within the US and beyond. With the first birth of a child using mtD and the UK having amended legislation to allow for its use, there is a pressing need for such work to be done, especially as US women with MD seek to use the technology despite the lack of regulatory approval within the US. The work will be informed by insights from a range of key stakeholders including: geneticists, medical practitioners practicing in the field of assisted reproductive technologies, women with MD, regulators and policy makers. Outputs of the project will include a monograph, a public event, and a series of pieces in publications such as The Conversation and Future Tense.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date8/1/187/31/22

Funding

  • Carnegie Corporation of New York: $200,000.00

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