Human Exceptionalism

The Case Against 3-Parent IVF

In light of the recent study indicating the safety concerns with 3-parent IVF in animal studies–and given the pronounced ethical concerns–the Center for Bioethics and Culture asked me to flesh out my views about the contentious biotechnology. I do so in “Now is the Time to Stop Three-Parent IVF:”

Even successful animal experiments wouldn’t guarantee healthy human application. Sure animal models are helpful in predicting outcomes, but there are often significant differences in human application. The only certain way to study the safety of human three-parent IVF would be to conduct the kinds of experiments now only permitted in animals studies—e.g., aborting fetuses or euthanizing subjects at different stages of development and then studying their bodies.

We won’t do that (I would hope!). This means that creating three-parent children will require acting despite our ignorance of potential health outcomes—amounting to blatantly unethical human experimentation.

There is also a technique that destroys existing embryos:

It might not just be eggs that will be broken in three-parent IVF—but potentially existing embryos. A different approach to the technology involves destroying two embryos and using their constituent parts to manufacture a third. Talk about reducing nascent human life to a mere natural resource!

This is the bottom line:

Three-parent IVF would further the commodification of reproduction—adding to the meme that people have the right to have a baby by any means they desire—and to have the kind of baby they want. Moreover, it would further the radical social engineering of family life. For example, in a different context, the California Legislature recently passed legislation allowing a child to have three legal parents (vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown). If enacted, such laws would not fit snugly around the proposed IVF technology without the preferable legal status of three biological parents even being debated.

This doesn’t mean the absence of happy homes. Adoption offers love for desperately want-to-be parents and children who desperately want a home.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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