Bioethics Blogs

Human germline gene editing full report—a bit more

As Steve Phillips pointed out yesterday, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine has published, in book form, its full report on “Human Gene Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance.”  On Valentine’s day.  (I suppose it’s not so ironic.)  The entire report may be downloaded for free through this link.  Also available at that page are links to a 4-page summary report and to one-pagers on different aspects of the report.  I urge interested readers to follow the link to the National Academies’ website and read at least the executive summaries.  

Steve asks whether heritable gene editing in humans has “compelling” support, and argues not.  Regular readers of this blog will know that I have agreed, arguing this is a road we ought not to travel.  There have been numerous posts on this blog, notably in 2015, including the December 3, 2015 post with embedded links to other 2015 posts on the subject.  Rather than repeat those here I invite the reader to follow the breadcrumbs.

Steve’s take is that, because of unknown risks to an affected unborn child, editing of said child at the embryo stage, or perhaps even at the germ cell stage, prior to fertilization, should not be undertaken.  The argument FOR doing it is that, in very limited cases in which there is a well-known, single-gene defect whose effects are devastating and for which treatment alternatives are absent or inadequate, parents desiring to have an unaffected child could ethically avail themselves of a gene-editing approach.

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.