There have been several headlines the last day or so about a human baby conceived from the DNA of three parents. We found an article about it in Nature that you can read without a subscription: ‘Three-parent baby’ claim raises hopes — and ethical concerns. They say:
A reported world-first in fertility therapy — a baby boy conceived with a controversial technique that mixes DNA from three people – has made headlines across the world. But with no way of verifying the claim because the specialists behind the procedure aren’t releasing data until October, some researchers are questioning the ethics of the procedure. In particular, they ask why the US-based team behind the operation chose to carry it out in Mexico, a country with less-clear oversight of human embryo modification than, for instance, the United Kingdom or the United States.
Researchers at the New Hope Fertility Center in New York City told New Scientist — which broke the news on 27 September — that they had conducted the procedure for a Jordanian couple, and that the baby boy was born in April.
[T]he boy’s mother has a rare disease called Leigh’s syndrome, a neurological disorder caused by faulty mitochondria, the cell’s energy-producing structures. The couple lost two children to the disease before asking the clinic’s help.
In an attempt to create embryos without the mother’s faulty mitochondria, the clinic’s team transferred the nucleus of the mother’s egg cell to the egg of a donor with healthy mitochondria — a technique known as spindle transfer — and then fertilized it with the father’s sperm, the team reports in the abstract. Zhang’s team modified five embryos, one of which was implanted into the mother and survived to birth. That baby inherited nuclear DNA from both parents and mitochrondrial DNA from the donor.
You can click over there to read the rest. We hope the baby grows up to be healthy, and that this new procedure may become accepted for use in such cases. But not everyone shares our attitude. For your entertainment, we now give you an example of a different view.
You are about to travel into another reality, a reality not knowable by evidence and reason because it isn’t bound by the laws of nature, but by the wonders of Oogity Boogity! It’s a journey into the realm of miracles and mysticism, where all you need is faith. Oh look — there’s a signpost up ahead. It says: “Welcome to Seattle, Home of the Discovery Institute.” Your next stop — The Drool Zone!
The Discoveroids’ creationist blog features this new post: Three-Parent Baby Shows No Limits to Science Hubris. It’s written by Wesley J. Smith. We don’t hear much from him, but he’s a Discoveroid “Senior Fellow” and a lawyer. His specialty is “Human Exceptionalism,” Discoveroid code for “In His Image.” The bold font was added by us for emphasis:
Fertility doctors have brought a baby to birth from an embryo created artificially with the biological substances of two women and one man. That could be illegal in many places, so the American doctors went to Mexico to do the procedure.
More importantly, what are the potential longterm consequences to this child? We don’t know. Indeed, this child will have to be followed for potential health problems going forward. Even if there is no untoward consequence to the baby — which all should hope — this was unethical human experimentation.
[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] It was unethical experimentation! Then Wesley says:
The doctors fled to Mexico to flee regulatory oversight. Yet “The Scientists” blame the regulators: [big quote from an article in Science: Unanswered questions surround baby born to three parents]. In other words: Let us do what we want or we will do it anyway!
What scoundrels! How dare they try to give that woman a healthy baby? After that, Wesley ends his post by pronouncing a stern moral judgment upon those who intervene with the designer’s plan:
In truth, those who circumvent the rules should be shunned, not praised. And they expect us to trust them? No.
Society needs to have an important and in-depth debate over how and whether to permit these nature- and potentially family-altering techniques to go forward, and if so, under what circumstances. But instead “The Scientists” presume the right to decide for themselves what is ethical in science. There’s a word for that: hubris.
Ever since the 1818 publication of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, we’ve seen frightened people and their preachers screaming about scientists who dare to “play God” by meddling in the unknown, experimenting in their infernal la-BOR-a-tories, and attempting things that man was not meant to know! And here we see the Discoveroids feeding the fears of the ignorant, playing the role of science censors, and longing for the power to launch a new Inquisition.
We haven’t heard the end of this. For further developments, stay tuned to this blog!
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