Federal Parliament will this week have a conscience vote on the mitochondrial donation bill, the first conscience vote since the same-sex marriage vote in 2017. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.
The bill is called Maeve’s Law in honour of Maeve Hood, a five-year-old girl who lives with Leigh’s syndrome, a serious and life-limiting mitochondrial disease.
Mitochondrial disease is the name for a group of life-altering or life-shortening disorders that occur when faulty mitochondria fail to produce energy in the body’s cells as they should. It’s rare, but there is no cure because it affects every cell in the body.
Prevention is the only option, and this can be done through mitochondrial donation. The procedure works by replacing the faulty mitochondrial gene in an egg cell with a working gene from a donor egg.
Debate on Maeve’s Law is slated to begin today. While it is believed to have majority support, there are several MPs who do not believe it should be enacted.
Labor MP Chris Hayes, a Catholic, will vote against the bill.
Mr Hayes said that while he felt “very sorry” for the families of the children born each year with severe mitochondrial disease, he could not support the legislation on ethical grounds.
Bishop Richard Umbers, Bishop Delegate for Life with the Autralian Catholic Bishops Conference, said the Church appreciated the “deep desire” for parents to avoid passing on mitochondrial disease, but this was the wrong way to go about it.
“The Government admits that ‘the risks for children born using these techniques are not yet fully understood and the available scientific evidence to support this procedure is limited’, which underlines how premature this legislation is,” Bishop Umbers said earlier this year.
The long road to get Maeve’s law before Parliament (By Rachel Clun and Dana Daniel, Sydney Morning Herald)
Mitochondrial donation law raises ethical, safety concerns (ACBC Media Blog)