UK IVF Couple Wants Deaf Child

The Human Future points to a fascinating story of a deaf couple in the UK that has a deaf daughter. Now they want another child. The mother is in her 40s, so the coupled needs to do intro-vitro fertilization (IVF). OK, so what’s wrong with that? The couple may not get the deaf embryo.
From The Guardian, “The trouble is that, according to clause 14/4/9 of the bill, the selection of a hearing child through IVF is permitted, but embryos found to have deafness genes will be automatically discarded. ‘This sends out a clear and direct message that the government thinks deaf people are better off not being born.”
Does the government have the right to dictate the condition of an embryo? I understand the need for the rule to protect parents from receiving problematic embryos, but what of parents who want a unique one?


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  1. There will be a demonstration march on April 12 in London, UK organised by Islington Deaf Campaign
    need more support from people, ask people to come to the march.

    • Silly Question on March 11, 2008 at 11:03 am
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    Is it that they want a deaf embryo, or they just don’t want their embryos screened? They want to take whatever the good Lord gives them like they would get if they were able to conceive through good old fashioned sex?

    • sarah on March 11, 2008 at 5:23 pm
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    It worries me that the discriminatory foundations of this Bill have been glossed over in much of this debate. This policy clearly states that a child without a ‘serious illness’ must be automatically preferred to a one that does have one (or indeed, a risk of developing one). This is clear discrimination and implies that a Deaf life is one not worth living. If this legislation is passed a precedent of statutory interpretation will have been established – that deafness is indeed a ‘serious illness’. In future what other ‘conditions’ may be eradicated in this way? This medical conception of deafness is a narrow-minded denial of the richness and value of Deaf culture and community.
    Deaf persons have many unique qualities to offer the rest of the world – can many hearing people claim to be able to attend an international conference and be able to communicate with any person of any nationality? Deaf persons can through adapting their beautiful and flexible language. Far from being isolated and lonely individuals, each Deaf person may become a member of a vast global community if they wish to do so.
    Clause 14 should be recognised for what it is – yet another thinly veiled attempt to eradicate Deaf persons, motivated by economics. The brave parents at the heart of this debate are not seeking to ‘engineer’ a ‘designer baby’. The embryo is deaf, it already exists. They are simply saying that they would deeply love and cherish a child that others may see as disabled. What is so very terrible about that?

    • Meryl on March 12, 2008 at 9:10 am
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    More articles and entries on the topic:
    Peter Bracken
    Mishka Zena

    • MM on March 16, 2008 at 4:01 am
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    The deaf couple did not say they were going to do IVF, they hadn’t decided on another child as yet. What they said was IF they did, and couldn’t create a child naturally, THEN they might consider IVF. If that occured again THEN they would want a deaf child.

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