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Disabled Peoples International Statement on Human Genetics

Genetic Crossroads
January 7th, 2001

The European contingent of Disabled Peoples International (DPI Europe)
released a position statement in November on the new human genetics.
DPI is an international human rights organization committed to the
protection of disabled people's rights.

The statement addresses the threats to people with disabilities posed
by developments in human genetics, including the increasing use of
prenatal screening and pre-implantation diagnosis.

"Human genetics poses a threat to us because while cures and palliatives
are promised, what is actually being offered are genetic tests for
characteristics perceived as undesirable," the statement says. "[O]ur
perceived value and role as well as our human rights are continually
diminished by the questionable medical ideas and discriminatory
attitudes spawned by the new genetics. . ..

"We repudiate the utilitarian ideology which informs much of the new
human genetics, particularly the assumption that society would be
better off without the inconvenience and expense of disabled people.
In contrast, we want to see all clinical practice based on strong
principles of justice, ethics and non-discrimination with a respect
for diversity, autonomy and fully informed choice."

The DPI statement includes a list of 10 demands about the future of the
new human genetics. These include strict regulation of human genetic
techniques; non-directive, rights-based genetic counseling; support
for all children and celebration of human diversity; representation of
disabled peoples on all human genetics advisory and regulatory bodies;
and protection of disabled people from discrimination and violation
through medical intervention. The full text of the DPI statement can be
viewed at <http://www.dpieurope.org/htm/bioethics/dpsngfullreport.htm>.


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