Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Human Fertilisation and Embryology

Part of Living Wage (Reporting) – in the House of Commons at 3:09 pm on 3rd February 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Liz McInnes Liz McInnes Labour, Heywood and Middleton 3:09 pm, 3rd February 2015

No, I will not, because I need to make progress and let other people speak.

Last night, it was my privilege to attend the debate on the safety and ethics of this technique and to hear Professor Doug Turnbull, who leads the research team at Newcastle university, talk about the 15 years of work done by his team and the extensive safety checks that have taken place during those years. In the Chinese case to which my hon. Friend Robert Flello referred, the treatment was carried out by an American clinician on a single patient in China. The patient became pregnant with triplets, one of whom was aborted and the other two were born prematurely and died. Importantly, the clinician attributed the outcome entirely to multiple pregnancy and obstetric complications, not to the method of conception. I do not accept that that one case represents a proper clinical trial.

What we have to remember is that mitochondrial disease is a life-limiting debilitating disease, causing severe distress to parents and their affected children. We have here a technique with the ability to alleviate their suffering and to allow affected parents the chance to have a healthy child who is genetically related to them in all aspects apart from a tiny proportion of mitochondrial DNA. The spectre of designer babies can be dismissed. There is no possibility in using this technique of being able to select certain characteristics. It will simply allow mitochondria to function normally and for the child to be free of mitochondrial disease.