LONDON, September 9, 2005 ( – The UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has reversed a ban preventing scientists from creating embryonic children derived from the combined ova of two women with the sperm from a single father.

The need to combine the ova from two women is argued to be a necessary means to prevent mitochondrial disease like muscular dystrophy being passed from a woman who carries the genetic trait to her offspring. By inserting the non-nuclear portion of the ovum from a woman free of the disease into the ovum of a woman who carries the disease, scientists argue they can prevent its transmission.

Newcastle University Professor Doug Turnbull and Newcastle Fertility Centre scientific director Dr Mary Herbert are spearheading the controversial procedure. US scientists claimed to have used a similar procedure to ensure 15 children born to mothers with mitochondrial disease were born without the disease in 2001.

Comment on Reproductive Ethics spokesman Josephine Quintavalle said, “This shows once again that the HFEA does not have any regard for public consultation and the views of the public,” according to a BBC report. “It is undesirable to create children in this way. It will shock the world. This is playing around with early human life.”

LIFE charity spokesman Matthew O’Gorman added that, “This decision is utterly unethical, abhorrent and contrary to public opinion. The HFEA are relentlessly imposing their libertarian agenda on the people of this country against their wishes: the government must act to disband it immediately.”

See BBC coverage:



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