Three-Parent in Vitro Fertilization (IVF): An Approach to the Position of Muslim Jurisprudence and Arab Laws-Emirati Law as a Model

By Hammad, Hamza Abed Al-Karim | Issues in Law & Medicine, Fall 2018 | Go to article overview

Three-Parent in Vitro Fertilization (IVF): An Approach to the Position of Muslim Jurisprudence and Arab Laws-Emirati Law as a Model


Hammad, Hamza Abed Al-Karim, Issues in Law & Medicine


Introduction

The British House of Commons approved on 3/2/2015 mitochondrial donation or "Three Parent In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)" using the nuclei of one female, inserted into the enucleated ovum of another female and then fertilized with sperm, based on "Human Fertilization and Embryology" Law. The Members of Parliament in the British House of Commons voted in favor of permitting scientists to produce embryos in this fashion. Hence this article aims to elucidate the position of Muslim jurisprudence on the matter of Three-Parent IVF, and the related position of Arab laws - Emirati law as a model. The article is divided into three parts:

First: Medical position

Second: Position of Muslim jurisprudence

Third: Position of Emirati Law

First: Medical Position

The creator of the idea of a Three-Parent embryo is Dr. John Zhang, who used a technique to transfer the nuclear DNA from the mother (wife) into a donor egg from a woman who did not have mitochondrial disease. Hhen he fertilized the donor egg which contained the mother's (wife's) nuclei with sperm cells from the father (the husband) by the traditional methods of in vitro fertilization inside the lab. In such case, the resulting child would bear approximately 0.1% of his DNA (i.e. the mitochondrial DNA) from the Donor. The first example of this technique was performed in Mexico in September 2016, when it was announced that a child from a Jordanian family was born as a result of this technique. At that time, the child was five months old. The child's mother carried the genes of Leigh Syndrome,2 and the operation took place under the supervision of an American medical team.3

The jurisprudential ruling is based on the published medical description of the issue. The question for this article is: (1) "Does this process of placing DNA from the mother's (wife's) nucleus into the egg of a donor with mitochondrial DNA from another women lead to mixing and overlapping of the lineages of genealogy?"4 or (2) "Is it like the donation of organs, where a person who donates one kidney to another person has no effect on the overlap of lineages?"

In order to obtain the perspective of Islamic medical specialists on this topic, the researcher contacted via e-mail a large number of Islamic physicians who specialized in gynecology and obstetrics and received medical responses which fell into one of two categories:

1. There is no mixing of genealogy since the traits of the offspring are carried by the nuclear DNA of the mother (wife) and the mitochondrial DNA of the donor does not confer genetic characteristics, or

2. There is mixing of the genealogy, since the traits coded in the mitochondrial DNA of the donor (non-wife) are also transferred to the cells of the offspring.

Each view will be illustrated by quotes from the corresponding medical opinions.

There is no mixing of genealogy.

The Al-Sabbagh5 opinion is that the mitochondria are not a part of the transgenic chromosomes which carry the genetic traits, and their function is simply to supply the cell with the energy needed to perform its biological functions. Thus, this type of enhancement carries only the nuclear genes of the mother and father and does not carry any nuclear genes from the donor. Al-Sabbagh stresses that this type of medical treatment is a cure for some medical dilemmas, and it is useful for couples looking for the blessing of procreation as a treatment for mitochondrial diseases. There is no manipulation or addition of nuclear genetic material.

This opinion was also adopted by Al Reshoud,6 who believes that the procedure should be considered as a great achievement that serves humanity This approach of transferring nuclear genetic material from the mother (wife) allows for the survival of children who would otherwise die due to mitochondrial deficiencies in the mother's (wife's) cells. Such an approach also gives the couple the hope that they would have progeny reflecting the genetic code of both the mother (wife) and father (husband). …

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