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Once upon a time in the 1950s procreation was as simple as the word of God. Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl drunk. Boy marries girl. Girl has boy … and so on.

In the metro-sexual fast paced universe of today we complicate things. Threesomes are all the rage and oddly enough the most asexual of us, the scientists and politicians, are driving this triad orgy.

Today the UK government announced that it would be the first to support a controversial new IVF technology that allows a third ‘parent’ to contribute to the genetic makeup of a couple’s designer baby.

A mother with a genetic defect in the powerhouse of her cells, the mitochondria, is now able to have offspring without the risk that mitochondrial disorder will be passed on to them. In essence scientists are able to isolate the vast majority of the genetic code from mother A and insert it into a healthy cell from mother B. The lucky father, or player, then donates his sperm to the hybrid egg in the usual IVF setting … a room smelling of cleaning liquids, a cup, some magazines and good old fashioned elbow grease.

Embryo,_8_cellsAlthough only 0.2% of the offspring’s genetic code derives from mother B, today’s media is foaming at the bit with headlines such as ‘three parent babies‘. Such bylines overstate. There is no suggestion that the donor mother B has any maternal legal rights.

0.2%. Pfff! I spit at 0.2%.

Large tracts of our genome are filled with ancient viral DNA, a legacy of ancestral viral infection. Should parents be concerned by mother B’s 0.2% stake in their baby? Viruses don’t pay alimony.

Media headlines such as ‘My parents had a threesome!‘ are far more accurate. The degree of parenting expected of so-called ‘mother’ B is about as much as might be expected from the subject of a tripartite masquerade encounter in a saucy underground swinger’s bar.

Théodore_Géricault_(French_-_Three_Lovers_-_Google_Art_Project

Three Lovers by Théodore Géricault

As usual ethical commentators think that ethics determines the progress and utility of science!

But does not the incremental progress of science determine our sense of ethics?

What is horrific today might be commonplace tomorrow. Should we be terrified? Our grandchildren are not.

Although the new technology is not as spicy as Géricault’s painting above, if it proves to be safer than those writhing bodies, the healthy kids of tomorrow will be proud to announce that their parents had a threesome.

The emotionally inspired rhetoric of various lobby groups inspires fear of scientific discoveries that might save lives. The fear mongers say this IVF technology could lead to the normalisation of so called designer babies …

… which would undoubtedly lead to the emergence of horrible eugenic mutants that would feed upon our curdled blood until our sun tolerant race is extinct and replaced by Google programmed vampiric Terminators coded to kill the zombie infestation with tachyon powered lasers made by the CIA

Or it might just lead to happy parents and the eradication of certain rare genetic diseases like muscular dystrophy.

They fear a DOOR may be opened, as if it has not already been torn from its hinges and splintered for kindling on the bonfire of scientific progress. This DOOR that God created only to spitefully prevent anybody ever using, like apples that should not be eaten, supposedly leads parents to a computer terminal where they can order their babies online. Here they can create an avatar for a baby. They can designate eye colour, IQ, religious persuasion, taste in movies, even hat size. 

And why not?

Those naysayers who wish to barricade the DOOR, they must choose their mates randomly like animals … no … hang on … like plants … no no, they also select mates based on traits that would imply the offspring will be healthy and prosperous, as we all do.

Sex is genetic selection defined.

Sex is choice, usually. Sex is also more enjoyable than getting a man to ejaculate into a cup, taking cells from somebody else, clamping this, inserting that, monitoring here, signing legal document there, thanks mother B, $$$.

Oh dear it didn’t work … try again. Are you free mother B? $$$.

What is more ethical … parents who make life changing expensive, sometimes traumatic, decisions based on deliberation, emotion, intelligence and passion … or getting drunk in a nightclub and conceiving randomly in a cubicle without a seat?

Granted modern medicine has led to the emergence of cosmetic surgery. So perhaps this new IVF technology could lead to mix-and-match babies … if we allow it. Science does have a habit of incrementally eroding that which our ancestors considered ethical. Like hats. We don’t wear hats any more! Is the scalp not offensive? So why can’t we design a few babies? It’s just dress up for adults.

Bio-ethicists love to say things like ‘it is crossing a line in the sand’.

It is estimated that 1 in 6500 are born with mitochondrial disorders. This disease is a horrible way to die, and now it is an unnecessary way to die.

You bioethics gurus, just move your line in the sand! That’s the beauty of sand. You can move the line. The sand won’t mind.

For more Science Satire Serpentry, go HOME. Go on. On ya bike.

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One thought on “My parents had a threesome

  1. Fascinating material, SSS, and, as always, your take is witty as well as informative. Keep up the good work – and mind those cubicles.

    BJE

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