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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.



165,000 Engagements End Due to ‘Genetic Incompatibilities’by Hussain Hazzazi and Ayman Al-SaidalaniSaudi GazetteMarch 24th, 2015In Saudi Arabia, health checkups are mandatory for engaged couples before they get married. The program aims to reduce the risk of having children with any blood or gastronomical diseases.
Lisa Ikemoto Guest Piece on Human Germline Genetic Modificationby Lisa C. IkemotoKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogMarch 23rd, 2015The call for a moratorium is as much a game changer as the technology itself. It creates an opportunity for research transparency and open exchange between the scientific community and the lay public.
Could 'Superdonors' Make Replacement Organs That Work In Anyone?by Luke TimmermanForbesFebruary 9th, 2015Scientists have known for years there are people in the world with a rare gift—their cells look innocuous to the immune systems of many other people. What if they became “superdonors?”
FDA Regulation and Early Prenatal Testingby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorFebruary 5th, 2015The information that accompanies prenatal testing should be accurate, complete, useful, and most of all nondirective. The ads for early prenatal tests do not meet these criteria.
Prenatal Tests: Oversold and Misunderstoodby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorDecember 16th, 2014A scathing investigative report on the accuracy of noninvasive prenatal testing is likely to shift the terms of this important conversation.
The ‘Science’ of Eugenics: America’s Moral Detourby Marilyn M. SingletonJournal of American Physicians and SurgeonsDecember 15th, 2014Within 100 years, our deep thinkers went from declaring that in our new country “all men are created equal” to espousing the idea that “some men are more equal than others.”
Have New Prenatal Tests Been Dangerously Oversold?by Beth DaleyNew England Center for Investigative ReportingDecember 12th, 2014Many prenatal testing companies promise more than they can deliver. Two studies show that results can be a false alarm half of the time.
Commercialisation and the Moral Obligation to Create 'Designer' Babiesby John GallowayBioNewsDecember 8th, 2014Julian Savulescu made the case for a new 'eugenics', without ever using the word, at Progress Educational Trust's 2014 annual conference.
Thailand’s Parliament Approves Bill Banning Commercial surrogacyAssociated Press in BangkokNovember 28th, 2014The decision follows several surrogacy scandals this year, including one in which an Australian couple left behind a baby with Down syndrome.
UCLA Researchers Announce Gene Therapy Cure for 18 ‘Bubble Baby’ Patientsby Cath Becker and Suzan ClarkeGood Morning AmericaNovember 18th, 2014Researchers announced they have cured 18 children who were born with a genetic disorder that leaves them without a working immune system.
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