Mitochondrial Donation Regulations
Posted Wednesday, 4 February 2015 at 12:41
Yesterday I was proud to be able to vote for the mitochondrial donation regulations. I thought about this at great length and received much correspondence from constituents on the matter so I wanted to explain why I voted the way that I did. Several people, including my own family, have expressed surprise for my support of this issue.
When I first became an MP in 2005 one of the first pieces of constituency casework I dealt with was a family with two young boys suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The regulations I voted for yesterday will enable scientists to attempt to eradicate the disease. Although neither of those boys would have been able to benefit, other families around the country and in Mid-Bedfordshire in the future will have the chance to rid themselves of what can only be described as a heart-breaking disease, which affects the very young.
The regulations presented for a vote yesterday were very specific. The slippery slope argument therefore doesn't apply as any further move would require a further vote. I am also satisfied that the regulations affect such a small number of scientists working in such specific circumstances that most of the arguments against given are not relevant.
If there are any further votes liberalising rules in this area more generally for advancement in DNA modification I would likely vote against in an instant. The arguments given by several of my constituents against general genetic engineering are entirely valid but they are fighting against changes that have not been proposed and were not voted upon yesterday.
For me, the best illustration of the broad coalition supporting these regulations comes in the form of both Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, and the Bishop of Carlisle. Many religious groups have legitimate concerns about the direction of some medical research but this was not the right time to draw that line.
Any further attempt to loosen regulations and unleash a torrent of negative side-effects from genetic research will not receive my assent. But this was a chance to make a minor change to regulations that will bring enormous benefits to families affected by diseases such as muscular dystrophy. I could not look in the eye the parents of those two young boys in my constituency if I had voted in any other way.
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
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