A rare conscience vote was afforded MPs in Federal Parliament yesterday on the controversial Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform (Maeve’s Law) – and the bill passed 92 votes to 29.
The bill will legalise radical genetic manipulation and, perforce, amend the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction Act 2002 and Research Involving Human Embryos Regulations 2017.
Australian Christian Lobby’s National Director of Politics, Wendy Francis, said,
“It begs the question, is it ever ethical to advance scientific knowledge by means of experimentation on unwilling human subjects?
“For sound historical reasons this has always been a scientific ‘no go’ area. Even those who would like to argue that the case differs materially when the human subjects in question are embryos created for no other purpose, the ethical weakness of this position is abundantly clear.
“It is sadly ironic that if this bill had been in place, Maeve (the precious much-loved child for whom this bill is named) would not have been allowed to live.”
Eminent ethicists have expressed significant concerns regarding the experimental nature of the process and its long-term consequences.
Dr Megan Best, Director of Ethicentre Ltd. and Associate Professor of Bioethics, Institute for Ethics and Society, The University of Notre Dame Australia, said,
“Mitochondrial donation involves altering the human germline, that is, altering genetic material that is inherited by the next generation. Allowing mitochondrial transfer to proceed in Australia defies the international call for a moratorium on human germline manipulation.”
Future children born of this process (mtDNA transfer) would have two biological mothers and one biological father.
Wendy Francis continued, “Creating an embryo with three biological parents crosses a new frontier in human experimentation. The physiological and ethical implications of having three biological parents should not be dismissed lightly.”
The Australian Christian Lobby urges Federal MPs to make significant amendments to this legislation at the Senate stage.