Babies having THREE parents?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by iMacBooked, Jun 2, 2014.

  1. iMacBooked, Jun 2, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014

    iMacBooked macrumors 6502a

    iMacBooked

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    4 8 15 16 23 42 ✈ Country: Belgium
    #1
    In the near future (2015), the first three-parent babies will be born. This is something that interests me a lot, and as this is something controversial I want to see everyone's opinion about it. :)
    For those of you who don't know what this is all about: it is a recently discovered IVF technique in the UK where not only one egg but two eggs are used, thus resulting in a baby having 3 genetic parents. Why? The reason for it is to prevent passing genetic diseases to babies: they take the defective DNA out of the first egg and replace it by 'good' DNA of a second mother.
    It's obvious that this is positive for medical reasons, to stop passing on genetic diseases etc, but what about the social and legal part of this? :)
    Should the law then recognize three legal parents? If so, should there be any conditions?
    Imagine for example a couple undergoing this IVF-treatment and use a very close person as a second mother (which seems highly possible to me as the biological mother probably doesn't want a total stranger to become a third genetic parent), what if the couple then wants the second mother to be involved in the child's parenthood? Then the baby would have three 'real' parents and will be raised in some sort of triangle relationship. Do you think this would have a negative social impact on the child?

    Thread update:
    - Three parent babies will be banned from knowing their 'second mothers'
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10984068/Three-parent-babies-banned-from-knowing-second-mothers.html
     
  2. Huntn, Jun 2, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014

    Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #2
    I don't know if having some DNA from a second egg if it still belongs to someone, would qualify that person as a 3rd parent. I imagine they would look for donated eggs although I admit to not being any kind of an expert for this situation. It does seem like eminination of genetic diseases is a worthy goal. And what about faulty dna from the sperm?

    If you are open towards or believe in the concept of souls, the body is the "automobile" of your Earth bound existence, but I wonder how religions will come out on this? I'm curious if they identify which part of DNA turns into the brain? The concern might be fundamentally changing the characteristics of your child into the child of another.
     
  3. iMacBooked thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMacBooked

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    4 8 15 16 23 42 ✈ Country: Belgium
    #3
    That's indeed a good question, it would certainly make you a 3rd genetic parent, but it wouldn't necessary make you a 3rd legal parent. Hmm, interesting.
     
  4. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #4
    I imagine this would not move forward in any mainstream way if there was a requirement for 3 legal parents.
     
  5. iMacBooked thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMacBooked

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    4 8 15 16 23 42 ✈ Country: Belgium
    #5
    The National Catholic Bioethics Centre in the US talks of introducing a "rupture" between mother and father, and "diluting parenthood".
    Another major religious objection to genetically modifying an embryo is that it might infringe the child's right to what bioethicists call an "open future".
    That last concern is reasonable if a modification would give the child a certain hair or eye colour or something, because the child may feel that they have been tailored to suit their parents' expectations. But this is another situation, I think preventing a child from inheriting a nasty disease would give them an even more open future, not less.
     
  6. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #6
    But this is the same thing, picking and choosing physical characteristics, possibly inadvertently mental/personality qualities, but I'm just speculating. How much do we know about the impact of these changes? Societies will have to decide where the line is.
     
  7. Kissaragi macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    #7
    I don't see the controversy myself. Its just another way of making people healthier.

    A lot of the people against things like this would be a bit less vocal if they lived with a condition that could have been cured by these technologies.
     
  8. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #8
    A good discussion point is how does preventing diseases, which I believe most people would be happy to avoid, differs from parents making cosmetic changes in their children. Designer babies are just around the corner! ;) I can see a situation where some children are not happy with the choices their parents made for them.
     
  9. iMacBooked thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMacBooked

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    4 8 15 16 23 42 ✈ Country: Belgium
    #9
    I don't think this is the same. When you tell your child during parenthood that it was genetically modified in order to prevent diseases, it will probably be seen as a worthy goal, not only by the child but also by society.
    Making cosmetic changes however, isn't something parents will be able to justify that easily.
     
  10. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #10
    Passing on your genetic material does not make you a parent.
     
  11. iMacBooked thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMacBooked

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    4 8 15 16 23 42 ✈ Country: Belgium
    #11
    Actually it does, it makes you a genetic parent. That's why all the sources talk about "three-parent babies". The question however is if being a genetic parent would also make you a legal parent and/or a real/social/biological parent.
    In the situation where the second mother which DNA they used is someone who is close to the couple and not a simple anonymous donor: imagine the parents telling the child he is a genetically modified baby some time later on during parenthood; maybe law could recognize that person as a 3rd legal parent? Like for example if he/she visits her and sees her as another mother.
    But also in the other situation, where they just use an anonymous donor egg, this problem can rise: what if the child wants to know who that second mother is?
     
  12. Bug-Creator macrumors 6502

    Bug-Creator

    Joined:
    May 30, 2011
    Location:
    Germany
    #12

    And where does one end and the other one start ?

    Eliminating genes that would make your child either stay small or grow beyond 2m may sound like a good idea. Maybe also add some to give them an above average IQ.

    Heck, maybe there is some way in there to prevent your child from getting obese, gay or a pantomine !!!
     
  13. lannister80 macrumors 6502

    lannister80

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2009
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    #13
    Meh, of the three parents, one of them will ONLY contribute mitochondrial DNA. The other 2 parents will provide everything else (all the traits that make a person a person).

    So really, it's by no means an even split. 2 parents provide 99.99999% of the DNA, and the other just provides a "shell" of an egg with mitochondrial DNA.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-parent_baby#Technique
     
  14. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #14
    I should have been more clear, in the social sense, parenting is taking care of the offspring of your own species. A genetic donor is not a parent in this sense. Adoptive parents are.

    If you find a DNA sequence in Billy Bob 2013 it is going to be very hard to hold him liable for the child's well being in 3040 when he's been dead for centuries. If we are considering anyone who contributed to your DNA makeup a parent then we could potential have thousands of parents, so I don't see what the big deal would be.
     
  15. iMacBooked, Jun 2, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014

    iMacBooked thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMacBooked

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    4 8 15 16 23 42 ✈ Country: Belgium
    #15
    Same Wikipedia source continues:
    "Although the donor egg is said to contribute only 0.1% to the genetic make up of the child, when examining the genetic material of these children there are still three identifiable genetic parents. This is due to the fact that the donor egg came from a non-maternal relative. For the child to have only two identifiable genetic parents and still have undergone this procedure, the donor egg must have come from a maternal relative because maternal mtDNA is almost identical. Maternal relative egg donation is not commonly used, because if the female egg has a mitochondrial disease then it is highly likely that the maternal relatives inherited the disease as well."

    So yes you're right about the small amount, but it's still a three parent situation, even if it's only some sort of shell. :)
     
  16. Technarchy macrumors 604

    Technarchy

    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    #16
    Never seen Gattaca?
     
  17. iStudentUK, Jun 3, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2014

    iStudentUK macrumors 65816

    iStudentUK

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Location:
    London
    #17
    Although you have not linked to an article, if I recall correctly the process involves taking a donor egg and removing the nucleous, and replacing it with the nucleous from the mother-to-be's egg. The DNA left behind from the donor is in the mitochondria.

    Mitochondria are the "batteries" of the cell - they are small structures in our cells that play an important role in respiration. Originally (ie millions/billions of years ago) mitochondria were independent organisms and so have their own DNA, but at some point during evolutionary history they "teamed up" with what would become our cells and are now found within them. So an egg has half the mother's DNA in the cell nucleous (the other half to come from the father via the sperm) but the entirety of the DNA in the mitochondria (hence mitochondrial DNA is only passed on through the female line).

    Some very unpleasant diseases are due to problems with the mitochondria - so this process allows a mother to pass on her DNA to a child as normal whilst not passing on her mitochondria. All the "parental" DNA (by that I mean what people think of when they talk about it - the DNA that determines gender, hair colour, eye colour etc etc) is passed on as if it were a natural process.

    This is why I think it is a bit misleading to say this process leads to three parents. Strictly speaking yes there is DNA from a third party, but not the stuff most people think about (I doubt most people know about mitochondria). Plus baby born naturally has the same mitochondrial DNA as its mother, but also its maternal grandmother, maternal great-grandmother, any aunts or uncles on its mother's side, any cousins born to aunts on its mother's side and so on. But mitochondrial DNA lines can cross easily. Example:

    1) Mother A and Father B have a son. Mother C and Father D have a daughter. The son has "A" mitochondria and the daughter "C". The son and the daughter meet, get married and have a child - that child has "C" mitochondria.

    2) Mother A and Father B want to have a child, but Mother A has a mitochondria disease she doesn't want to pass on. Mother C donates an egg to use in the process above. The child to A and B has "C" mitochondria.

    So whilst process C is unnatural, it is only a variation on the natural crossing of mitochondrial lines - in 2) it happened one generation early.

    This process isn't really scary or unpleasant at all if you just understand it!

    Yes, this is a legal concept that already exists in the context of adoption - so not really a big obstacle.
     
  18. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #18
    I might finally be able to fulfill that fantasy of mine! :p
     
  19. iMacBooked thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMacBooked

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    4 8 15 16 23 42 ✈ Country: Belgium
    #19
    Thanks for clearing this out, makes a lot more sense now! :)

    But isn't that example a bit misleading? I mean, in 1 the son has A mitochondria and in 2 the child has C mitochondria, and that is overall the point. I agree that you can see this as 'happening one generation early', but isn't this exactly the point this is all about? Because in this context the only thing that really matters is the generation we're currently in and that would still mean that in 2, A and B's child has a different mitochondria C, not belonging to their parents, so at that time we still have a genetically different child. And yes we can justify that by comparing it to the natural crossing of mitochondrial lines like you did, but justifying an issue is not the same as actually covering it, I think. :)

    Interesting, but how can we compare this to adoption, you think? :)
     
  20. iStudentUK macrumors 65816

    iStudentUK

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Location:
    London
    #20
    I agree with your points. I am trying to show this is a twist on a natural process - but not saying it is natural. However, I think it is misleading to say the child has three parents. Mitochondria are very important, but provided they do their job all is good. The DNA that actually makes us 'us' is the nuclear DNA - it influences our appearance and personality to make is unique. The nuclear DNA is unchanged in this process, it is as if it had happened naturally. The third party is really insignificant. I just don't see any ethical problem with this.

    That is one example. The donor parent should have the same legal rights as a parent who gives their child up for adoption - ie not much. Not legally that complex.
     
  21. iMacBooked, Jun 3, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2014

    iMacBooked thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMacBooked

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    4 8 15 16 23 42 ✈ Country: Belgium
    #21
    Well if there isn't any ethical problem at the moment and for the current generation, then what about the future generations? :)
     
  22. Kissaragi macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    #22
    Natural is dying horribly and young from a variety of terrible diseases. Further away we can get from natural the better with regards to health.

    Designer babies are a whole other issue, although they are inevitable at some point in the future.
     
  23. iMacBooked, Jun 3, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2014

    iMacBooked thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMacBooked

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    4 8 15 16 23 42 ✈ Country: Belgium
    #23
    Interesting point. :) What reason makes you think it will be inevitable in the future? Just because we could have the technology to do it, wouldn't necessarily mean it would force us to do so.
     
  24. Kissaragi macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    #24
    Assuming we don't blow ourselves up or something we will inevitably reach a point where anyone can change anything about themselves at any time in our then unlimited life span. How long it will take to get there is obviously impossible to say.

    One of the steps on that road to scientific mastery is designer babies. Even if some countries ban cosmetic changes, others wont and it will be done illegally by the rich. Better to allow it and control it carefully in my opinion!

    The real problems will come if we get to a point where can increase the mental and psychical prowess of babies but not yet 'improve' adults in a similar fashion. It will create a nasty two tier society for a while like in the film Gattaca.
     
  25. iMacBooked thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMacBooked

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    4 8 15 16 23 42 ✈ Country: Belgium
    #25
    That's a good point. I didn't think of the situation where the rich would illegally be able to do so. In that case you're right, then we should control it carefully to avoid getting in big trouble.
    But maybe that controlling aspect has already slightly begun, here with these upcoming three-parent babies, as the UK government is going to adapt the law and make strict regulations for it.
    P.S.: Again that movie 'Gattaca' mentioned by someone lol, I think I should really watch it now. :D
     

Share This Page