Churches’ late showing on ‘three-person baby’ issue is based on a wing and prayer not evidence

I hope those MPs who have yet to decide how to vote in tomorrow’s parliamentary debate on the statutory instrument on mitochnodrial donation – ‘three-person babies’ – will take a few minutes to listen to Sharon Bernardi in this BBC News report from the weekend.  Sharon has lost seven children to mitochonria disease and her appeal for this legislation to be passed is measured and dignified.

In contrast, the Church of England and Catholic Church has made a less than dignified late showing in the debate calling on MPs to block the measure because of the lack of evidence and the need for greater debate about the ehthical considerations.

Quite where the churches have been for the last three years is beyond me.

The Human Fertilisation and Emryo Authority has conducted a comprehensive scientific inquiry including reports in 2012, 2013, and 2014 and a public consultation in 2012.   The Academy of Medical Sciences responded in 2013.  And you can read the report from the meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Research about this issue which took place just a few weeks ago and included medical research charities.  For more, you may wish to read this Guardian interview with two of the leading scientists pioneering this work, Professors Douglas Turnbull and Alison MurdochOr the Wellcome Trust blog.

Contrary to what the churches would have you wish to believe, this is an issues where the ethics and science have been explored to an arguably unparalleled breadth and depth.  Naturally, they have every right to participate in the this debate but to do so, so late and in such an ill-informed way renders their intervention almost redundant in my view. It certainly does not do justice to their respective congregations.





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