Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Reproductive Technology - What is the New Morality?

Reproductive technology is advancing at "the speed of light."  Science has now afforded us the ability to extract the abnormal chromosomal mitochondrial DNA (that part of the chromosome that is responsible for transmitting certain inheritable characteristics) and replace it with the "normal" mitochondrial DNA of a donor egg.  So, for instance, a mom with an inheritable defect transmitted by her mitochondrial DNA can have the mitochondrial DNA of a donor substituted for her own, thereby eliminating the possibility that her child will be subject to some devastating disorder that would have been transmitted by her own mitochondrial DNA.

The child who would be the product of this reproductive technology would, in fact, have the genetic makeup of not two, but three parents - that of the natural mother and father, and that of the donor egg with the normal mitochondrial DNA.

Are these techniques morally justifiable?  How should we react to these feats of genetic engineering?  Such processes are not ones that can be ignored or barred.  We will have to come to grips with a new moral clarity.  The identity of the traditional parent will have to give way to a new concept of "parenthood," and the whole concept of who contributes to the parenting of a child will take on an entirely new meaning.

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