Groundbreaking IVF technology aiming to prevent mitochondrial disease has been given the green light, after a late-night conscience vote enacted new laws enabling the controversial procedure to be carried out in Australia.
Dubbed â€œMaeveâ€™s lawâ€ after the Victorian family of a young girl with the rare but serious condition known as â€œmitoâ€, the bill passed 37-17 in the Senate without amendments late on Wednesday night after a passionate debate.
Health Minister Greg Hunt welcomed the vote, tweeting that the â€œglobally leadingâ€ legislation would give hope to families across Australia.
Mitochondrial disease refers to a group of disorders that occur when faulty mitochondria fail to produce energy in the bodyâ€™s cells as they should.
About 50 babies are born with a severe form each year, and many die before the age of five.
Mitochondrial donation is a procedure that works by replacing the faulty mitochondrial gene in an egg cell with a working gene from a donor egg, with the aim of preventing the condition while conceiving.
While the legislation was championed by paediatrician MPs, Laborâ€™s Dr Mike Freelander and Liberal Dr Katie Allen, religious groups and some Parliamentarians opposed it.
Labor senator Deborah Oâ€™Neill sought to amend the bill with the backing of senators including Kristina Keneally, who shares her Catholic faith, but was unsuccessful.