Scientists in Oregon have created embryos with the genes of two women and one man. From the AP story:

Scientists in Oregon have created embryos with genes from one man and two women, using a provocative technique that could someday be used to prevent babies from inheriting certain rare incurable diseases. The researchers at Oregon Health & Sciences University said they are not using the embryos to produce children, and it is not clear when or even if this technique will be put to use

An argument could be made that “children” were made, depending how one defines the word. Certainly, new human organisms were — and as an experiment. That is a big moral deal.

Researchers want money to go farther with their experiments:

Mitalipov said in an interview that the researchers hope to get federal approval to test the procedure in women, but that current restrictions on using federal money on human embryo research stand in the way of such studies

What, allow the children to be born? Or, repeatedly gestate and abort? That awful prospect would probably be necessary to test safety and examine the development of later embryos and fetuses produced by the procedure before taking it to the final step. Details please.

Federal funding is not allowed because of the Dickey/Wicker Amendment (which also prohibits federal funding of human cloning research). But DW is only a budget issue and must be passed yearly to remain in effect. I think it is urgent that its provisions — which prohibit federal funding for the creation of embryos for use in research — be embedded into permanent federal statutory law. States should also pass such restrictions.

Also note, that preventing illness is just the key that opens the door to many of these Brave New World technologies. Eventually — given the way things go these days — if the procedure ever becomes doable, it will go quickly from the “medical” to the “consumerist,” e.g., facilitating lifestyle choices and personal preferences. That’s what happened with IVF, after all, which is no longer restricted to treating the infertile. Indeed, if we ever normalize polyamory, one could see the technique as a way for three partners to have biologially related children.

Author Profile

Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC