Three Is Not a Crowd: A Case for Granting Parental Rights to Mitochondrial DNA Providers

Bhatt, Rohin

Parenthood claims based on mitochondrial DNA are justified biologically and could arise from people using mitochondrial DNA as part of an in vitro procedure to create children genetically related to two mothers. This paper explores parental rights issues in three parent babies arguing the rights of anyone contributing only mitochondrial DNA should be similar to that of a gamete provider: contractual when no parenting is intended and subject to parenthood claims in the case of lesbian mothers giving two parents equal child-rearing rights when both contribute DNA. This could avoid a need for adoption procedures when one partner’s pregnancy results in the birth of a baby that is the genetic child of both. Like egg or sperm donations, when the provider plans to raise the child, parenting rights attach partly based on genetics. When the donor is not part of the child-raising circle, the donor normally waives parenting rights and is relieved of parenting obligations.

Mitochondria are cell organelles present in the cytoplasm responsible for producing the energy cells need to carry out their normal activities. Mitochondria possess their own DNA, distinct from ours, containing about 37 genes. This accounts for less than 0.1 percent of the total DNA present in our bodies. Nevertheless, mitochondrial DNA is crucial: without it, mitochondria could not function.[1]


  • thumnail for 7295-Article Text-13696-1-10-20201206.pdf 7295-Article Text-13696-1-10-20201206.pdf application/pdf 196 KB Download File

Also Published In

Voices in Bioethics

More About This Work

Academic Units
Published Here
January 28, 2021