After “three-parent embryos” were legalised in Britain last week, some American bioethicists immediately took to the media to promote the technique.
In an article in Wired, “Is It Ethical to Create Babies From Three DNA Sources? Absolutely”, Art Caplan, who is probably the best-known American bioethicist, argues that it will prevent the birth of disabled children. He says that it is almost certainly safe and will not involve three parents. Like many other scientists, he contends that it is not eugenics and will not lead to eugenics. The mitochondria play an insignificant role in determining personality. “Transplanting mitochondria is not going to be the method used to create enhanced babies. Traits like height, intelligence, strength, balance, and vision don’t reside in the battery part of our cells.”
And in the Wall Street Journal, the head of a master’s program in bioethics at Columbia University, Robert Klitzman, argues that “three-parent embryos” are to be welcomed. Its opponents are scaremongering, he argues. It is an ethically straightforward procedure, like organ transplantation. “As biotechnology continues to advance and improve human health, we need to beware of applying frightening metaphors when they do not fit, and only distort and mislead.”
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