British members of parliament have voted in favor of a bill that paves the way for the creation of "three-parent" babies with the DNA from two women and one man, aimed at tackling genetic diseases. The approval comes despite concerns from the Church of England.
BBC News reported that 382 MPs in the House of Commons voted in favor of the bill, and 128 were against. While a vote at the House of Lords is also needed to take place before the bill becomes law, proponents said they expect it to pass, with the first babies from this process being born in 2016.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said that the idea is to allow parents with genetic diseases to give birth to healthy infants.
"We're not playing God here, we're just making sure that two parents who want a healthy baby can have one," the PM said.
The process involves combining the healthy DNA from a female donor into the mother's egg to replace defective mitochondrial DNA. The aim is to prevent children from being born with hereditary conditions such as muscular dystrophy, which effects nearly 2,500 British women.
The Church of England has said that embryo research could be acceptable when helping children, but warned that not enough is known about the process.
"The Archbishops Council, which monitors this issue, does not feel that there has been sufficient scientific study or informed consultation into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondria transfer," Rev. Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England's national adviser on medical ethics, said last week.
"Without a clearer picture of the role mitochondria play in the transfer of hereditary characteristics, the Church does not feel it would be responsible to change the law at this time."
Sir Tony Baldry, speaking for the Anglican Church in the House of Commons, added: "The Church of England accepts that embryo research is permissible if it's undertaken to alleviate human suffering. But there are concerns that there has been insufficient scientific study or informed consultation into the ethics of mitochondria transfer, not least the role mitochondria play in the transfer of hereditary characteristics."
Both sides of the issue had their voiced heard at the Commons debate, with Public Health Minister Jane Ellison calling the passing of the bill a "bold, considered and informed" step.
"This is world leading science within a highly respected regulatory regime," Ellison added. "And for the many families affected, this is light at the end of a very dark tunnel."
Congleton MP Fiona Bruce insisted, however, that the implications of passing down this process to generations cannot be predicted.
"But one thing is for sure, once this alteration has taken place, as someone has said, once the gene is out of the bottle, once these procedures that we're asked to authorize today go ahead, there will be no going back for society," Bruce said.