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About Disability & Human Biotechnology


Disability rights advocates have been among the earliest and most vocal critics of emerging genetic and reproductive technologies. Many people with disabilities are acutely aware that technologies enabling the selection of “good” genes and “normal” traits can devalue disabled people’s bodies and ultimately their lives.

This concern is informed by past and ongoing discrimination against people with disabilities that often includes brutal practices. For example, twentieth-century eugenicis­ts in the United States and some European countries sponsored programs that sterilized tens of thousands of disabled people. The Nazi genocide began with doctors and nurses exterminating over 100,000 disabled people in German medical facilities; tens of thousands more perished in concentration camps.

This historical context gives pause to disability rights advocates concerned about existing selection technologies that are increasingly being used to prevent the birth of children with particular traits, as well as future technologies that could be used to modify children’s genes.



Dreams of Children Shattered as Thailand Closes All IVF Center by Lindsay MurdochThe Sydney Morning HeraldAugust 9th, 2014Thai authorities linked the Bangkok clinic with a suspected international “baby factory” trafficking syndicate said to be behind at least 14 babies destined for overseas.
Will my Disabled Daughter have a Place in this Genetic Wonderland?by Ian BirrellThe GuardianAugust 7th, 2014Until society gets to grips with prejudice we cannot start to grapple with the profound questions that medical advances raise.
Thai Case Casts Spotlight on Business of Surrogacyby Grant Peck and Kriten GelineauAP August 7th, 2014Contributing to Thailand's popularity as a surrogacy destination is the large number of impoverished women who will carry babies for a price, and the availability of doctors with good reproductive medical skills.
More Heart-Wrenching Chapters in the Baby Gammy Storyby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesAugust 7th, 2014Inadequate regulation of cross-border surrogacy has led to some truly awful stories, from coercion and exploitation of impoverished women, to children left stateless, to couples whose life savings have been embezzled by unscrupulous agencies. The unfolding story of Baby Gammy adds new dimensions to the complexities of contract pregnancies.
Surrogate Mother Cares for Baby Abandoned Because of Down Syndromeby Sonia Allan, Biopolitical Times guest contributorAugust 4th, 2014Many see Baby Gammy’s plight as highlighting the extent to which commercial surrogacy arrangements can exploit and commodify women and children.
Australian Couple Leaves Down Syndrome Baby with Thai Surrogate by Lindsay MurdochThe Sydney Morning HeraldJuly 31st, 2014Gammy, a six-month-old baby abandoned by his Australian parents, could die because his Thai surrogate mother cannot pay for medical treatment for his congenital heart condition.
The Perfect 46: A “Science Factual” Film about our Near Futureby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJuly 10th, 2014A new science fiction film called “a sort of prequel to Gattaca” highlights the rise and fall of a genetic startup that analyzes people’s genomes to assess their ability to produce disease-free children.
Should We Design Our Babies? [VIDEO] [With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]The Aspen InstituteJuly 2nd, 2014At the Aspen Ideas Festival, Marcy Darnovsky and Nita A. Farahany discuss the possibility and implications of "designer babies."
Advancing the Disability Rights Perspective on Bioethics Issuesby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesJune 26th, 2014Reproductive technologies were on the agenda of the first-ever Disability Rights Leadership Institute on Bioethics.
Community Concerns Regarding the Google-Autism Speaks Ten Thousand Genomes Program (AUT10K)ASANJune 12th, 2014In response to the recent announcement of the new Google-Autism Speaks collaboration to produce, expand and analyze the world’s largest private collection of DNA samples of autistic children and adults.
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