Jeremy Wright is to be thanked for explaining to us why he voted against allowing the genetic changes that would prevent children potentially at risk, from inheriting the terrible mitochondrial disease. However, I think his arguments do not bear careful scrutiny and that the overwhelming majority of MPs, on a free vote, were right to approve the proposals which were proposed and supported by the medical profession.
As he has done in the past when, for example, opposing proposals to allow assisted dying, he employs the slippery slope argument by looking fearfully ahead and imagining the worst. If we agree to assisted dying, even with all the safeguards, how will we stop full-blooded euthanasia? If we allow this genetic modification how, it is implied,
can we stop ending up with designer-babies?
This argument is inconsistent with our general approach to medical intervention generally. Surgery can be misused but we do not ban it altogether; only when it does harmful things like female genital mutilation. We do not ban all medicines because some may be misused. It is surely sensible to take all medical advances that raise ethical questions on their merits. If further genetic interventions are proposed they too can be discussed and any risks assessed. I accept that they should be scrutinised but the starting assumption should surely be that we greatly welcome advances in medical knowledge and application and that we should take full advantage of them unless there are clear and persuasive reasons not to do so.
Brian Nicol, John O’Gaunt Road, Kenilworth