The poll concerns the currently illegal technique, variously known as “3-person IVF” or more euphemistically as “mitochondrial donation,” which could move into UK fertility clinics shortly following an upcoming Parliamentary vote.
The technique involves the combination of one woman’s nuclear DNA with another woman’s mitochondrial DNA in the creation of a new child, with the hope of avoiding the transmission of mitochondrial disorders from an intending mother. It is currently illegal in the UK and several dozen other countries because it results in the modification of the genetic code passed down through the generations, something also explicitly prohibited in The Council of Europe’s Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.
Contrary to the protestations of advocates of the procedure — including the HFEA — total support for changing the law to allow use of the technique is even less than the number who “strongly oppose” the move (23%), let alone the total opposition (46%). Only 5% “strongly support” the move, while just over a third of respondents answered “don’t know.”
A US FDA committee considered the safety and efficacy of the technique in February and concluded that significantly more animal and embryonic research is needed before human clinical trials should be considered. When the participants in the latest poll learned that scientists around the world “have expressed concerns about the safety of the procedures for the children conceived” 42% were even less likely to support the change in UK law.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.