Britain becomes first country to approve three-person babies
The UK has become the first country to approve a law to allow babies to be created from the DNA of three people.
This evening the House of Lords approved the modified IVF bill.
Under the new rules, IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation) clinics will be able to replace an egg’s defective mitochondrial DNA with healthy DNA from a female donor’s egg.
It would result in babies having DNA from three people – and effectively, two mothers.
After the bill was approved by MPs with a large majority earlier this month, the House of Lords tonight blocked attempts to sabotage it with a majority of 232.
The first baby could be born as early as 2016.
The change allows women to have children without passing on serious and incurable diseases of the mitochondria.
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During the Lords debate, health minister Lord Howe said: “Families can see that the technology is there to help them and are keen to take it up, they have noted the conclusions of the expert panel.
“It would be cruel and perverse in my opinion, to deny them that opportunity for any longer than absolutely necessary.”
Some, however, argued that there were concerns about safety.
Sally Cheshire, the chairwoman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, told the BBC: “Britain is the first country in the world to permit this treatment, and it is a testament to the scientific expertise and well-respected regulatory regime that exists across the UK that Parliament has felt able to approve it.
“The HFEA now have to develop a robust licensing process, which takes into account on a case by case basis the technical and ethical complexities of such treatments to ensure that any children born have the best chance of a healthy life.
“The HFEA has a long tradition of dealing with medical and scientific breakthroughs, ensuring that IVF techniques, pioneered in the UK and now practised across the world, can be used safely and effectively in fertility treatment.”