I am a subscriber to the LifeSiteNews mailing list and have been for a number of years. The list and associated website is dedicated to reporting news about events and issues that impact the sanctity of human life. The site is run by Roman Catholic believers who take a strong stand supporting the pro-life cause. In general, it is a great website and I highly recommend subscribing to their list.
However, there is one recent article, in particular, that is extremely deceptive and promotes a view that can only be described as evil. The article, entitled, “Genetically modified 3-parent children hitting their teens,” is designed to get people in an uproar about the creation of these “genetically-modified children.” What the article does not tell you is why these children have “three parents.” In reality, these children are neither genetically-modified nor does their nuclear DNA come from three parents.
First, we need some background as to why these children are different from every other child. It turns out that there are rare genetic disorders that are caused by mutation of the DNA found in the sub-cellular organelle known as the mitochondrion. Although most of the proteins found in mitochondria are encoded by the nuclear DNA, there is a small amount of DNA found in the mitochondrion itself, known as mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). This mtDNA codes for 13 peptides that are crucial to the functioning of each mitochondrion. Since mutations of these protein interfere with the function of the mitochondria, which are required for cellular metabolism, individuals with these mutations suffer a range of devastating diseases, usually beginning in childhood. The other important consideration is that these mutations are passed from one generation to the next only through the mother. This is because all mitochondria of the embryo come from the mother’s egg (the sperm supply only DNA). This means that a woman with a mtDNA mutation will pass that mutation on to 100% of her normally conceived children. For this reason, most women with these diseases choose not to produce biological children.
Fixing Mitochondrial Diseases
However, there is a technique that will allow these mothers to produce biological children who lack the disease. It is a modified form of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in which the nucleus from the woman’s egg is extracted and placed into an enucleated donor egg (donor’s genetic material removed). This way, the egg will have normal mitochondria along with the mother’s nuclear genetic material. The repaired egg was then fertilized with the husband’s sperm and implanted into the mother’s womb to produce normal biological children for the couple.
The LifeSiteNews article claims that these IVF-conceived children were genetically-modified. Although many species of plants have been genetically modified by adding non-natural genes to the genome of the plants in order to make them resistant to diseases, no such alternation of genes was done to these children. In fact, the nuclear DNA of the mother was not modified at all. The LifeSiteNews claim is bogus.
The other claim of the LifeSiteNews article is that these children have “3 parents.” Since all the nuclear DNA comes from both the biological mother and biological father, the egg donor contributes no DNA to the appearance of the children. The only contribution of the “third parent” are normal mitochondria. So, a genetic test of parentage would confirm that the biological mother and father were the only two parents. The claim that these children would have three parents is also bogus.
What is Really Evil
Roman Catholic dogma says that couples should not use any artificial form of birth control. However, when the mother has a mtDNA mutation, any natural conception would automatically condemn the child to inheriting the debilitating disease of the mother. Therefore, genetic counselors suggest that these couples use multiple forms of birth control to prevent natural conception. Although couples could adopt, many would prefer to have their own biological children. The Roman Catholic “solution” to mitochondrial diseases is to require couples to not use birth control and virtually guarantees that they produce children condemned to a life of suffering. LifeSiteNews had the audacity to claim that the IVF solution to the heartache of these couples was inferior to the Roman Catholic “solution.” LifeSiteNews would not allow my comments to be published on their website, but those comments can be viewed here. My guess is that the editors of LifeSiteNews did not understand the reality of what the author of the article had written. I would prefer to think that ignorance, rather than coverup was behind their biased and deceptive article. They are free to comment here…