09 February 2022
Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform (Maeve’s Law) Bill 2021.
Labor decided that this Bill would be debated and voted on as a conscience vote or a free vote. That is consistent with the way in which the Labor Party has treated issues around embryo research since 2002.
This bill is appropriately named Maeve's Law, after Maeve Hood, a young girl, from Victoria with mitochondrial disease, a debilitating genetic disorder that strips the body’s cells of energy, causing multiple organ dysfunction or failure and sometimes death. It has no cure, with treatments currently available aiming to decrease the effect of the symptoms. At present these treatments do not significantly change the course of the disease.
Mitochondrial donation involves replacing the mother’s mitochondria with mitochondria from a donor egg. Mitochondrial DNA does not influence a person’s characteristics such as height, eye colour and intelligence. All these characteristics are determined by the nuclear DNA which is not impacted by the donation process.
Through debate in the Senate Chamber over several days and through the many previous inquiries and reports Senators exchanged much information about all of the technical and ethical issues that this Bill raises. These issues are a cause of concern for some members.