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Britain legalizes three-parent IVF babies

Photo shows the artificial insemination of a human egg (David Gregs/Alamy)

Britain has become the first country to legalize the creation of IVF babies with the DNA of three people.     

The required changes in the law, making it possible for UK fertility clinics to use mitochondrial donation, were voted for with a majority of 232 in the House of Lords on Tuesday.

Babies conceived through three-person In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) would have the biological material of a mother, father and a female donor.   

During the technique, developed by scientists at Newcastle University, IVF clinics replace the defective mitochondrial DNA of a would-be mother with healthy DNA from a female donor.

"Families can see that the technology is there to help them and are keen to take it up, they have noted the conclusions of the expert panel,” Lord Howe said during the debate.

"It would be cruel and perverse in my opinion, to deny them that opportunity for any longer than absolutely necessary."

Earlier in the month, MP’s in the House of Commons approved the procedure.

Research has shown that in the UK nearly 2,500 women at the risk of transmitting harmful DNA mutations in the mitochondria could benefit from the procedure. The technique can help prevent children suffering debilitating conditions like muscular dystrophy.

The technique has its opponents such as church leaders and pro-life groups who argue it could open the doors to designer babies and eugenics.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, Labor leader Edward Miliband and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg all voted for the decision.


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