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Resource allocation, treatment, disclosure, and mitochondrial replacement techniques: Some comments on de melo-martin and harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-287
Number of pages10
JournalCambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
Volume26
Issue number2
Early online date31 Mar 2017
DOIs
Accepted/In press6 May 2016
E-pub ahead of print31 Mar 2017
Published1 Apr 2017

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Abstract

Should we proceed with mitochondrial replacement technique (MRT) research and clinical practice? There has been a lively debate on the topic in this journal, in which John Harris has argued in favour of this position and Inmaculada de Melo-Martin against it. This paper broadens the scope of this debate by presenting a richer account of the MRT phenomenon and by exploring some areas that naturally follow from Harris’s and de Melo-Martin’s discussion of the topic. First, I present what mitochondrial diseases and MRTs are. I expand on Harris’s portrayal of ‘mitochondrial disease’, which de Melo-Martin seems to follow. Secondly, I address how MRTs could prevent mitochondrial diseases, and if they would be effective in doing so. I do this by unpacking the differences between the types of MRTs. A detailed examination of the differences between MRTs shows that the ethical panorama is more complex than first thought. Thirdly, and finally, I present and defend the thesis that parents have strong reasons to disclose to their children that they were MRT-conceived. I show how both Harris’s and de Melo-Martin’s discussion of the ‘right to know our genetic origins’ can be complemented.

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