Three parents, one baby: scientists create a new family law issue

It’s hard to ignore the fact that scientific advancements have given us a lot in the last few decades. Even infertile couples are able to have children with the help of in vitro fertilization and embryo adoption. But scientists in the United Kingdom have taken science a step further recently, which could push the boundaries further in not only science but the law as well.

Some residents here in Kentucky may have already heard about the news grabbing worldwide attention. According to a February article in the Telegraph, scientists believe that they are able to conceive a child from three people’s DNA. The procedure, which is currently banned, implants DNA from one woman into the defective egg of another woman. That egg is then fertilized by donor sperm from a man, giving the child genetic markers from all three parents. But ethics aren’t the only problem this new discovery runs into.

As readers of our blog know, some child custody cases are determined based on paternity. But if the paternity test yields three parents, the courts might run into problems not only with determining custody but support payments as well. And because no legislation currently exists for this family law issue, courts the world over could find themselves ill-equipped to handle such complicated cases.

As we mentioned before, the procedure is banned because it is consider unethical under basic medical ethics. Though this means that legislators do not need to rush through new legislation anytime soon, continued pressure from scientists could mean that the technology becomes available in decades to come. If this happens, and lawmakers have not prepared legislation to handle such cases, then our readers here in Louisville could start seeing some very complicated cases on this blog down the road.

Source: The Telegraph, “'Three parent babies' could be born in Britain next year,” Sarah Knapton, Feb. 27, 2014