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March 12, 2008

The right to choose?

The row currently in the news over the challenge to the government's new legislation governing embryology and genetic research comes from the unlikely source of a deaf couple who are challenging the legislation on the grounds that they should be allowed to choose that any child born to them by IVF treatment should be deaf. Now, leaving aside for the moment the concept of screen embryos to check for the genetic defects that cause congenital deafness, surely the debate should be addressing the question of giving any future child the opportunity to be born fully equipped for this life with eyes, ears that function and all the other organs functional as well - and not about whether or not the parents should have the right to decide whether or not a future child should be deaf, blind or limbless?

I found myself listening in disbelief to the arguments advanced by this couple and their supporters who are arguing on an emotional level that satisfies their needs - and completely ignores the childs. THEY want the child to be like them - deaf - and not to have the chance to be able to hear and appreciate all the things they cannot. THEY do not consider themselves disabled - and want their children to "fit into their 'culture'". Excuse me? So being deaf is now a "cultural" issue? So now perhaps we can look forward to demands from the wheelchair warriors for "cultural recognition" of their right to cripple the rest of us as they barge their powered wheelchairs through crowded shops and supermarkets?

This is definitely the thinking of the lunatic asylum. Offered the choice between bringing into this world someone with the full use of all their faculties and all their limbs and bringing in someone whose entire life will require a huge amount of support and assistance, will be handicapped in so many ways, these people would seem to be saying that they would deliberately choose to bring someone into it deliberately disabled.

I sincerely hope that the Judge in this vexatious case rules that the parents have no right to deliberately choose to disable their offspring when they have the choice. I know what my response would be if I learned that my parents had made this choice and that I now had to live with their bigotry. Bitter doesn't describe it.

Posted by The Gray Monk at March 12, 2008 05:33 PM

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Nature is imperfect, but it does create diversity. People were in an uproar when technological advances led to the possibility of selective abortion based on potential birth defects. The thing is, it's just as bad to want to use technology to CREATE them or to choose to keep a child based solely on potential deafness or being wheelchair-bound. Where is the humanity in that? What about other unknown medical conditions the child might have? Where's the consideration for that?

You get pregnant, do your level best to have a healthy pregnancy and protect the fetus, and pray for good health. That's what parents do. To do otherwise just to have a child "like you" is balderdash.

I have two friends from my childhood who were born to deaf parents. Both children could hear. They experienced their parents' culture just fine and they grew up with an unparalleled empathy and compassion very rarely seen. One became a speech pathologist. The other works for park services in Colorado. Their parents are proud of them and they are proud of their parents. Plenty of good culture to go around.

Posted by: Da Goddess at March 14, 2008 04:29 AM

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