Mitochondrial replacement techniques: a critical review of the ethical issues

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


This chapter reviews the philosophical and ethical questions raised by mitochondrial replacement technologies (MRT). The authors argue that the therapeutic case for MRT is weak and that the involvement of a third party, in the form of the mitochondrial donor, establishes a genetic relationship between donor and child that calls into question the appropriateness of allowing donors of mitochondrial DNA to remain anonymous. MRT dedicates scarce resources to a relatively rare problem that might be addressed in other ways, involves unknown risks, and is likely to reinforce the ideal of genetic parenthood at the same time as it destabilizes it. However, in these, and in many other ways, MRT is very much akin to other assisted reproductive technologies. Insofar as, at least when used to create female embryos, MRT is a form of germline modification, legalization of MRT is also likely to have implications for social attitudes toward other technologies of germline modification.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReproduction Reborn
Subtitle of host publicationHow Science, Ethics, and Law Shape Mitochondrial Replacement Therapies
EditorsDiana Bowman, Karinne Ludlow, Walter G. Johnson
Place of PublicationOxford UK
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9780197616239
ISBN (Print)9780197616208, 9780197616192
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • assisted reproductive technologies
  • bioethics
  • ethics
  • gamete donation
  • genetic relatedness
  • genome editing
  • mitochondrial replacement technologies
  • parenthood
  • reproductive liberty

Cite this