Prison For Chinese Doctor Who “Edited” Baby Girls

“The nature of their behavior is serious and has constituted the crime of illegal medical practice.” – Chinese court statement in sentencing of He Jiankui and co-conspiriators. Screenshot: CNN

Was a Chinese court justified in jailing the doctor who edited the genes of two baby girls while they were still embryos? Comment below. 

Dec 30, 2019

(CNN)A Chinese scientist who helped create the world’s first gene-edited babies has been sentenced to three years in prison.

He Jiankui shocked the world in 2018 when he announced that twin girls Lulu and Nana had been born with modified DNA to make them resistant to HIV, which he had managed using the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 before birth.

He said at the time that he was “proud” of the achievement.

But he was condemned by many of his peers, with the experiment labeled “monstrous,” “unethical,” and a “huge blow” to the reputation of Chinese biomedical research.

Many people within the scientific community raised ethical concerns, including the level of consent He had obtained from the parents of the babies, and the level of transparency around gene editing.

On Monday, the Shenzhen Nanshan District People’s Court sentenced He to three years behind bars and a $430,000 fine.

According to the court’s findings, He became aware of potential economic gains from human embryo gene-editing technology in 2016. He worked with two other medical researchers to use gene-editing technology to produce babies that were resistant to HIV.

“The court held that the three defendants failed to obtain a doctor’s qualification and pursued profit, deliberately violated the relevant national regulations on scientific research and medical management, crossed the bottom line of scientific and medical ethics, and rashly applied gene-editing technology to human-assisted reproductive medicine, and disrupted the medical treatment,” Xinhua reported. “The nature of their behavior is serious and has constituted the crime of illegal medical practice.”

Zhang was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 1 million yuan ($143,000) … Read more. 

Was a Chinese court justified in jailing the doctor who edit the genes of two baby girls while they were still embryos? Comment below.