Human Exceptionalism

Making Deaf Children: Eugenics is Eugenics is Eugenics

An interesting study has found that the children of deaf parents who can hear oppose the right of deaf people to select embryos for deafness. From the abstract.

This study…is the first of its kind examining the views of hearing children of deaf adults towards preimplantation genetic diagnosis and prenatal diagnosis to select for or against deafness. Hearing children of deaf adults (or CODAs, as they call themselves, and are widely known in the deaf community) straddle both the deaf and hearing worlds, and this dual perspective makes them ideally placed to add to the academic discourse concerning the use of genetic selection for or against deafness. The study incorporated two complementary stages, using initial, semistructured interviews with key informants (CODAs and health professionals) as a means to guide the subsequent development of an electronic survey, completed anonymously by 66 individuals. The participants shared many of the same views as deaf individuals in the D/deaf (or “culturally deaf”) community. The similarities extended to their opinions regarding deafness not being a disability (45.5% believed deafness was a distinct culture rather than a disability), their ambivalence towards having hearing or deaf children (72.3% indicated no preference) and their general disapproval of the use of genetic technologies to select either for or against deafness (60% believed that reproductive technologies, when used to select for or against deafness, should not be available to the community).

Exactly right, and not just to the deaf community. Designing progeny to suit or fulfill our personal desires is oppression, pure and simple.  It treats our children as a consumer product. It denies the equality of children with traits we don’t want, and ultimately restricts their freedom by the sheer power of genetic selection. It also treats the unwanted as so much medical refuse.  Eugenics is eugenics is eugenics–from whatever side the deciding is made.

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