DiversityNursing Blog

UK Lawmakers Approve '3-parent babies' Law

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Feb 04, 2015 @ 11:47 AM

By Laura Smith-Spark

EGG 2565177b resized 600

Lawmakers on Tuesday voted in favor of a law that sets the stage for the United Kingdom to be the first country in the world to allow a pioneering in vitro fertilization technique using DNA from three people.

The technique could prevent mitochondrial diseases but also raises significant ethical issues.

The measure was passed in the House of Commons, 382 to 128, Speaker John Bercow said.

A further vote must be held in the UK's upper house, the House of Lords, before the measure can become law.

Passage of the law is opposed by Catholic and Anglican church leaders, in part because the process involves the destruction of an embryo.

One in 6,500 babies in the United Kingdom are thought to develop a serious mitochondrial disorder, which can lead to health issues such as heart and liver disease, respiratory problems, blindness and muscular dystrophy.

Problems with mitochondria, the "powerhouse" cells of the body, are inherited from the mother, so the proposed IVF treatment would mean an affected woman could have a baby without passing on mitochondrial disease.

But the cutting-edge IVF technique, which involves transferring nuclear genetic material from a mother's egg or embryo into a donor egg or embryo that's had its nuclear DNA removed, raises ethical questions.

The new embryo will contain nuclear DNA from the intended father and mother, as well as healthy mitochondrial DNA from the donor embryo -- effectively creating a "three-parent" baby.

The amount of donor DNA in the mitochondria will, however, be much less than the parental DNA in the nucleus, which determines the baby's characteristics.

 

Called an ethical watershed

 

The Church of England's national adviser on medical issues, the Rev. Dr. Brendan McCarthy, described the step as representing an ethical watershed and said more research and wider debate were needed.

"We accept in certain circumstances that embryo research is permissible as long as it is undertaken to alleviate human suffering and embryos are treated with respect. We have great sympathy for families affected by mitochondrial disease and are not opposed in principle to mitochondrial replacement," he said.

"Our view, however, remains that we believe that the law should not be changed until there has been further scientific study and informed debate into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondrial replacement therapy."

Bishop John Sherrington, in a statement posted online by the Catholic Church in England and Wales, urged lawmakers not to rush into taking such a serious step.

"It seems extraordinary that a licence should be sought for a radical new technique affecting future generations without first conducting a clinical trial," he said. "There are also serious ethical objections to this procedure which involves the destruction of human embryos as part of the process."

The California-based Center for Genetics and Society, in an open letter to UK lawmakers last month, said that although the proposed goal was noble, "the techniques will in fact put women and children at risk for severe complications, divert resources from promising alternatives and treatments, and set a policy precedent that experimentation on future generations is an acceptable biomedical/fertility development."

 

Incurable diseases

 

A team at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research, led by professor Doug Turnbull and based at Newcastle University in northern England, has been leading the research into the pioneering IVF technique.

The center points out that mitochondrial diseases cannot be cured and that in many families, several people are affected.

A Wellcome Trust fact sheet states that "nuclear DNA is not altered, and so mitochondrial donation will not affect the child's appearance, personality or any other features that make a person unique -- it will simply allow the mitochondria to function normally and the child to be free of mitochondrial DNA disease.

"The healthy mitochondria will also be passed on to any children of women born using the technique."

According to the latest estimates from the research team, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, almost 2,500 women of childbearing age in the UK are at risk of transmitting mitochondrial disease to their children, while in the United States, the number is more than 12,400.

This equates to an average of 152 births per year in the UK, and 778 births per year in the United States, the team said. 

In a Newcastle University news release, Turnbull said his team's findings had considerable implications for other countries considering the technique. Allowing it would give "women who carry these mutations greater reproductive choice," he said.

Source: www.cnn.com

Topics: laws, ethical, parents, birth, lawmakers, 3 parent babies, DNA, embryo, health issues, IVF, health, healthcare, disease, babies

Are Women More Ethical Than Men?

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Mon, May 20, 2013 @ 10:51 AM

By:  

We’ve all heard it preached — in our corporations and beyond — how we should do the right things in the right way and for the right reasons. Even so, it’s often easier, faster and seems more profitable to take actions that fall in a somewhat gray area — what we’ll call a slippery slope.

Here’s what that could look like in an organizational setting: approving products before quality checks, production rate trumping safe practices, questionable sales made for goods notdescribe the image available, creative accounting to justify mergers, suppressing reporting errors, and the many other small ways we individually fail to keep promises or look away when our gut tells us something is amiss.

If one were to break it down by gender, there is no evidence that women are more likely to behave more ethically than men. But gender research does report more verbal sensitivity to the rights and dignity of others among women when compared to men. For instance, women overwhelmingly report that they would not work for a company that will do anything to win. Still, refusal to select such a workplace doesn’t mean that women in the workplace will behave more ethically than men. What people say they will do has very little predictive validity compared to what they actually do.

Nevertheless, gender is an untapped resource in setting the conditions to behave ethically. Consider the oft-cited stereotype that women are known for their inclination as caregivers and men for their conditioning to reach the end goal. Both are important. Caring is of little value if the corporation fails, and end goals are meaningless if people and the public good are harmed. But if each were to bring their strengths to the table when addressing ethical concerns and help keep each other accountable to do the right thing, we might not read about ethical lapses in the news as often.

So, who is in charge of the organizational ethical compass? The ultimate responsibility rests on the shoulders of those who lead, and diversity executives can help leaders to create an ethical workplace culture by starting with the following steps:

• Encourage leaders to surround themselves with men and women who are committed to supporting ethical actions.

• Make sure there’s a set of values that leaders and employees can look to when facing ethical dilemmas. Craft a sophisticated plan of action to ensure ethics is part of everything from sales meetings to production report to community involvement. Translate values into the varied observable actions that represent those values.

• Provide a forum in which errors and near-misses are reported without negative consequences, but are part of the healthy ethical framework the company is striving to create.

• Examine the consequences for saying and doing the wrong thing — subtle and unintended, overt and intended. Leaders must examine themselves and seek evaluative support from others about what they do that’s trending toward or away from what others deem ethical.

• Arrange practices, processes and incentives of the workplace to shape and maintain ethical decisions from the boardroom to the shop floor.

• Leaders should be open to critique of business strategies and tactics — in some instances it’s acknowledging that the worker in the boiler room may know better than leaders about what is really going on that is ethical or not.

• Encourage use of a scorecard of ethical elements to evaluate how well leaders and employees are doing, jot down what “slippery slopes” they faced and how they might better respond to it going forward.

• Share learning in an active way. Review short-term effects against uncertain but possible longer-term effects. Calibrate and change course where needed.

Source: Diversity Executive 

Are women more ethical than men? What do you think? Let us know with your comments below.

Topics: women, business, men, gender, ethical, ethical compass

Click me

ABOUT US

DiversityNursing.com is a national “niche” website for Nurses from student nurses up to CNO’s. We are a Career Job Board, Community and Information Resource for all Nurses regardless of age, race, gender, religion, education, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or physical characteristics. 

Subscribe to Email Updates

Posts by Topic

see all