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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.

7 Highlights from Nuffield Council’s Review on the Ethics of Genome Editingby Jessica Cussins, Biopolitical Times guest contributorOctober 18th, 2016A recent UK report discusses social and political implications of genetically engineering human reproduction and other controversial CRISPR applications.
The Misleading Promise of I.V.F. for Women Over 40by Jane E. BrodyNew York TimesOctober 17th, 2016Miriam Zoll pushes back on the optimistic picture that the fertility industry paints for consumers that masks over 20 million failed IVF cycles.
DNA database could help predict your disease — then get you firedby David LazarusLos Angeles TimesOctober 14th, 2016The "Precision Medicine" project of introducing big data into healthcare comes with a host of risks for individuals and communities, including privacy and genetic discrimination.
Advocacy group anecdotes present one-sided picture of genetic testing for breast cancerby Mary Chris JaklevicHealth News ReviewOctober 13th, 2016The push for BRCA genes screening often glosses over the limited foresight given by testing, the corporate ties of advocates, and the lack of support for women who test positive.
Three-person baby 'race' dangerous[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by James GallagherBBCOctober 12th, 2016Scientists and ethicists warn of fertility doctors forum-shopping to perform dangerous mitochondrial manipulation experiments.
Some I.V.F. Experts Discourage Multiple Birthsby Jane E. BrodyNew York TimesOctober 10th, 2016The first IVF baby was the only embryo transferred. Since then, fertility protocols have shifted in favor of more cycles and more drugs, contrary to medical evidence.
President signs Senate bill that protects eugenics victimsby Richard CraverWinston-Salem JournalOctober 7th, 2016Passed in a bipartisan effort, state restitution payments will not decrease or eliminate federal benefits for class members who were forcibly sterilized.
Uterus Transplants Fail Again: Why Are They So Difficult?by Rachael RettnerLive ScienceOctober 5th, 2016Four uterus transplants using live donors (a first in the U.S.) took place in Dallas with assistance from pioneering Swedish team, but three were removed due to lack of blood flow.
What’s the Longest Humans Can Live? 115 Years, New Study Saysby Carl ZimmerNew York TimesOctober 5th, 2016Despite improvements in modern life and medicine, researchers claim that humans have reached the upper limit of longevity.
Wrong Steps: The First One From Threeby Pete ShanksDeccan ChronicleOctober 2nd, 2016Gene-editing technology is advancing rapidly. What if we come to a consensus about what should not be allowed...and then some renegade scientists, convinced that they know best, just go ahead and do it?
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