UK Approves Three-Parent IVF

May 17, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. permit /pərˈmɪt / (v.) – to allow something to be done
Example: The doctor permitted the patient to go out of the hospital.

2. amendment / əˈmendmənt / (n.) – the process of formally changing the content or meaning of a law or document
Example: The government approved the amendment to the existing law.

3. inherit / ˌɪnˈherət / (v.) – to get traits or diseases from one’s parent upon birth
Example: I inherited diabetes from my mother.

4. donor / ˈdoʊ nər / (n.) – a person who donates something
Example: My sick brother needs to find a kidney donor.

5. controversial / ˌkɒn trəˈvɜr ʃəl / (adj.) – causing much argument, debate, or disagreement
Example: The news about the cloned sheep was quite controversial.


Read the text below.
The United Kingdom now permits the creation of babies through the process called three-parent in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

Out of 280 House of Lords members, 232 voted for the amendment to the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. This amendment will authorize doctors to use the three-parent IVF technique in hopes of preventing babies from inheriting mitochondrial diseases.

The three-parent IVF or mitochondrial donation is a process wherein a mother’s faulty mitochondria are replaced with healthy ones from another woman, preventing the mother from passing on mitochondrial diseases to her baby. This process gives the baby three parents—his or her mother, father, and the mitochondrial donor.

The mitochondria help produce the energy that a cell needs to do its activities.  Mitochondrial diseases occur when the energy generated within the cells significantly decreases. With the lack of energy, cells may die, thus causing damage to the brain, liver, heart, kidney, and muscles.

The three-parent IVF has become controversial, as people have different views about it. Supporters claim that this method can help around 2,500 women in the United Kingdom have healthy babies. With this technique, about 150 babies can be saved from mitochondrial diseases every year.

On the other hand, some medical experts warn that babies from this method are likely to have cancer and experience premature aging. Three-parent babies would also require regular monitoring. Some experts therefore propose that more extensive research is needed to verify if using the technique is indeed safe or not.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with the approval of the three-parent IVF method in the United Kingdom? Why or why not?
·         Do you think this method can also be used in Japan? Why is that so?

Discussion B

·         Would you be willing to donate one of your body organs to a person in need? Why?
·         If you were to donate one organ, what would it be and why?

May 17, 2015