[JURIST] UK lawmakers on Tuesday voted in favor of a law that would make the UK the first country to allow an in vitro fertilization (IVF) technique that uses DNA from two women and one man. In the House of Commons [official website], members of Parliament voted [BBC report] 382 in favor of passing the law and 128 opposing it. The measure will still have to go before the House of Lords. The new IVF technique will allow the DNA of two parents to combine with the DNA of a donor woman with healthy mitochondria, potentially preventing [Reuters report] the inheritance of mitochondrial diseases passed down the maternal line. Some critics who oppose the new law have voiced concern that it could lead to “designer babies,” with parents choosing their children’s physical characteristics. The process at issue concerns mitochondrial DNA, which does not influence physical or personality traits.
IVF is a type of fertility treatment for couples who have had difficulty conceiving children. Through IVF, a woman’s eggs are removed and fertilized outside the body. Successfully fertilized embryos are then implanted into the woman for gestation. Until 2012 Costa Rica was the only Western nation that banned the practice. In 2012 the Inter-American ruled [JURIST report] that Costa Rica’s ban on IVF violates the rights to privacy, liberty, personal integrity and to form a family, as recognized under international law. Although the nation is known for a progressive human rights and civil liberties record, the government usually holds to the Catholic Church’s edicts on many social issues. In August 2010 the Supreme Court of Costa Rica ruled 5-2 to disallow a nationwide referendum [JURIST report] on whether to recognize same-sex civil unions [JURIST News Archive]. The referendum was to be on the ballot during the December 2010 municipal elections after qualifying for the ballot through a petition.