The new atrocity: three-parent embryos

April 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

The headline reads: “UK scientists have created ‘designer embryos’ containing DNA from a man and TWO women.”

As I read this bizarre and disturbing news item regarding how mad scientists have successfully performed a “3-person in vitro fertilization” (“eighty embryos were created but destroyed after eight days”), a warning from the Lord Jesus Christ came to my mind:

“Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town” (Matt. 10:15).
Now, instead of a “town” in which evil and immorality is practiced on a wide scale, this blight has overcome an entire civilization. Woe to us if we don’t turn away from this kind of nightmarish meddling with God’s creation — and soon. And, to be candid, at times like this, I am inclined to think that it may already be too late.


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17 Responses to “The new atrocity: three-parent embryos”
  1. Chelsea says:

    Not that numbers really matter when we're talking about immorally creating and then destroying innocent human life, but, all together, we're talking about 240 embryos – tiny human beings – used and destroyed in this little science experiment, not 80.

  2. Chelsea says:

    These scientists didn't just create 80 3-parent embryos. For every 3-parent embryo that was created, two other embryos were created and destroyed in the process.

    Bobby Bambino: Yes, the nuclei were removed from EMBRYOS. Dr. Prentice explains: "After fertilization, but before the maternal and paternal nuclei have joined as a single zygote nucleus, the embryo is at the “pronuclear” stage. The scientists transferred this nuclear material out of one embryo (thus destroying the first embryo), placing the nuclear material into a second embryo (the second embryo having had its nuclear material removed, i.e., destroying the second embryo to make room for the nuclear material of the first.)

    Two embryos are destroyed to create (with new genetic mitochondria) a third, recombined embryo. The newly-created recombined embryo has the nuclear material from one embryo, and the cytoplasmic material from another embryo."

    Read his entire excellent analysis here: http://www.frcblog.com/2010/04/uk-scientists-clone-3-parent-embryos/

  3. bellator_animus says:

    What is against the laws of nature is against God. Lord have mercy.

  4. Patrick Madrid says:

    Thanks for your comments, Valerie, but I must disagree with you. From a Catholic standpoint, the ethics are not the least bit cloudy. In fact, the Church is quite clear about why IVF is morally impermissible:

    CCC 2376: Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses' "right to become a father and a mother only through each other."

    and

    CCC 2377: Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children." "Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses' union . . . . Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person."

  5. Valerie says:

    The headline is very misleading. I've read the actual journal article, and while I'm no expert on SCNT/reproductive biology, let me try to explain the science before we start having an ethics discussion.

    1) They used zygotes (one-cell stage embryo) that were abnormal, meaning they had either too much (3 pronuclei) or too little (1 pronucleus) DNA in order for the zygote to make a viable embryo. Maybe you could argue that the 3 pronuclei embryo could maybe make twins if the maternal pronucleus divided before the zygote began its cell divisions, but I think if such a thing occurred in the body, it would not develop into an embryo. All this is to say, what they used were not viable zygotes.

    2) Similar to SCNT, they took the pronuclei (either 1 or 2) from the abnormal zygote and transferred it into another abnormal zygote with its pronuclei removed. Then they tested to see whether or not this zygote would develop in vitro and how much mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) came with it.

    3) The problem that they're trying to address is that when a mother's mtDNA is mutated, and large amounts of the mutated mtDNA is present in the egg, it can cause real health problems and even death for the children that are born with it. This is completely inherited from the mother. The reason they've got to use the DNA from 3 people (a man and 2 women) is because in order to make a viable embryo, a zygote has to have DNA from both the mother and father, and to avoid inheriting the maternal mutated mtDNA, they have to use an egg (or in this case abnormal zygote) from a woman with normal mtDNA.

    Anyway, that's the science. The ethics are a little cloudy, certainly, but it's not as evil as the headline makes it seem.

  6. Shacoria Robinson says:

    WTF?

  7. Pauli says:

    I'd like to say to a mountain or hill "Cover us, fall on us", but I live in Northeast Ohio. So no such luck. Will have to wait for the moon to turn to blood.

  8. Ismael says:

    "However, if there were a way for a person to donate his mitochondria to replace an embryo or fetus' defective mitochondria in a morally licit way, this would indeed be a positive breakthhrough, as far as I understand it."

    Yes that would be moral, as, in general, also gene therapy can be.

  9. Ismael says:

    and the package as it's something good and moral:

    "The breakthrough gives hope of healthy children to couples with genetic disorders in their families. "

    I am sure that there are OTHER ways to do this, just like epitelial stem cells can replace embryio stem cells (and work even better, actually, according to some recent findings)

  10. Shane says:

    I actually think that this story is not nearly so bad as the headline makes it sound.

    Now certainly, the fact that this involves in vitro fertilization, with its intrinsic evil and all of the other evils that come along with it, is bad. The fact that 80 human beings were created in this process and then killed off, and that the scientists and reporter speaks of it without giving it a second thought, is atrocious.

    That said, the actual concept behind this – swapping out mitochondria – is really not problematic. The way they've gone and *accomplished* this goal is *very* problematic, but as a basic concept this really isn't any different from an organ transplant.

    If someone has a bad liver, there's nothing immoral about giving them the liver of a person who has just died. The new liver has a DNA which is distinct from the receipient's, but that's OK. Similarly, when a person receives certain types of blood transfusions they end up with a foreign set of DNA in their body. Bone Marrow transplants are even worse, because when a person gets one of those, the recipient's body thereafter creates blood with the donor's DNA rather than his own. None of this is a problem.

    The point I'm trying to illustate here is that having some third set of DNA come into the picture in a developing embryo or fetus is not in and of itself problematic. The problem comes into play due to precisely *why* and/or in what *way* that third set of DNA ends up in there. In the case of this particular experiment, it was very problematic indeed!

    However, if there were a way for a person to donate his mitochondria to replace an embryo or fetus' defective mitochondria in a morally licit way, this would indeed be a positive breakthhrough, as far as I understand it.

  11. Linus says:

    Sounds like they are trying to crate Alcasan.

  12. Rochelle says:

    Who the Devil gave these scientists the idea that they can design human beings better than God can?
    Who the Devil?
    I think I just answered my own question.

  13. Doubting Thomas says:

    i know it's weird to be referencing the Left Behind books on your blog but this reminded me of the fact that in the books, Nicolae Carpathia, the Antichrist, is conceived from just such a procedure. Altough he had two fathers instead of two mothers. Makes you think…

  14. Bobby Bambino says:

    This is a strange statement from the article:

    "The nuclei were put into one of the fertilised eggs left over after other women had IVF treatment.

    This egg had its nuclei removed – but retained its healthy mitochondria."

    First of all, the nucleus is removed from an EGG, not a fertilized egg (which as we know is a scientifically inaccurate term which is supposed to be embryo or zygote). The way SCNT works is to remove the nucleus from an egg, which does indeed leave the mitochondrial DNA from the mother, so I have to assume this is what they are talking about.

    But secondly, if that really does mean "egg" and not "fertilized egg", I don't think women who undergo IVF have leftover eggs. Yes, they have "leftover" embryos (fertilized eggs), but I believe that all the eggs the woman donates to her IVF procedure are fertilized, so I don't know where the writers of this article think the egg is coming from.

    Perhaps since this is such new science it works differently… but the details don't seem right to me. Anyone know more about the science of this?

  15. Veritas Prayer Team says:

    May God have mercy on our souls… thank you Patrick for getting our attention! How much more we need to pray and fast!

  16. Maggie says:

    Sadly, it was eighty babies created and destroyed for this purpose. It is terrible news.

  17. Carl says:

    There needs to be another "reaction" box: disturbing

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