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The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 16, Issue 4, Winter 2016

Katarina Lee
Pages 619-631

Ethical Implications of Permitting Mitochondrial Replacement

Mitochondrial replacement techniques (MRTs) have made headlines as some countries have passed legislation permitting the creation of “three-parent embryos” and because of the recent revelation that a child has already been born following the use of these techniques. MRTs assist women with severe mitochondrial disease to have children who are free from mitochondrial disease. Essentially, the mitochondrial DNA of an ovum or embryo is removed and replaced with the mtDNA of a donor. The purpose of this paper is to argue that MRTs are ethically impermissible but greater regulation is needed. There are five parts to this paper: (1) a brief history of mitochondrial manipulation, (2) a description of the MRT process, (3) ethical arguments in opposition to MRTs, (4) relevant counterarguments, and (5) a proposal for increased regulation.