Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

A child with 3 genetic parents? It's a daunting possibility

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jan 28, 2013

What would be the moral implications of producing a child with three biological parents? The National Catholic Register offers a disturbing but thought-provoking analysis of that question—which, unfortunately, is no longer far-fetched.

Scientists in Oregon have discovered a way to transplant the nucleus from an egg supplied by one woman into an egg supplied by another donor. When fertilized by a man’s sperm and implanted in a woman’s womb, the resulting embryo would carry genetic material from three different people. The process, which would be carried out through in vitro fertilization, offers a means of overcoming mitochondrial disease.

Rebecca Taylor explains in her Register analysis that the scientists’ approach in this case is morally unacceptable for several reasons: because it involves in vitro fertilization, which separates procreation from the marital act; because it is dangerous to the unborn child; and because it involves genetic engineering, which opens the door to a host of frightening abuses.

Unfortunately the Church’s teachings do not dictate American public-policy decisions, as the rising popularity of in vitro fertilization proves. Federal officials could approve the creation of 3-parent embryos, citing the very legitimate need to counteract mitochondrial diseases as a justification. Indeed Taylor reveals that at least two children have already been born with genetic material from three donors!

Quite apart from the moral implications, these artificial-reproduction techniques could create some knotty legal problems. Would the courts recognize the woman who donated the nucleus as the sole legal “mother” of the child? What about the woman who donated the egg, containing the mitochondrial DNA? What are the legal implications of recognizing three parents for one child?

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our April expenses ($26,663 to go):
$35,000.00 $8,336.70
76% 24%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: garedawg - Jan. 29, 2013 10:53 AM ET USA

    Man, and I thought that old song "I'm my own Grandpa" was a brain-twister!

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org
Shop Amazon

Recent Catholic Commentary

Mysteries, again and again! 14 hours ago
Tips for getting comfortable with evangelization 17 hours ago
The Shroud of Turin on Display (and an odd canonical case against it) April 16
The Vatican says the LCWR is acting Catholic. And that's news. April 16
The Truth about the Armenian Genocide April 15

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope challenges world leaders' silence on persecution of Christians CWN - April 6
Pope outlines plans for the extraordinary jubilee of mercy CWN - April 13
Vatican completes doctrinal assessment of Leadership Conference of Women Religious CWN - April 16