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News about the first baby born after a mitochondrial replacement technique (MRT; specifically maternal spindle transfer) broke on September 27, 2016 and, in a matter of hours, went global. Of special interest was the fact that the mitochondrial replacement procedure happened in Mexico. One of the scientists behind this world first was quoted as having said that he and his team went to Mexico to carry out the procedure because, in Mexico, there are no rules. In this paper, we explore Mexico's rule of law in relation to mitochondrial replacement techniques and show that, in fact, certain instances of MRTs are prohibited at the federal level and others are prohibited at the state level. According to our interpretation of the law, the scientists behind this first successful MRT procedure broke federal regulations regarding assisted fertilization research.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of law and the biosciences

Publication Date





50 - 69


Centre of Medical Law and Ethics, King's College London, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 2LS, UK.