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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.



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.
A Medical Student’s Call for Action Against Research Misconductby Eden AlmasudeThe Hastings CenterJune 3rd, 2014Is research misconduct and abuse the norm in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychiatry? A recent investigative report suggests that the answer may well be yes.
Loophole in Genetic Testing Lawby Rachel GlaserWHAM TVMay 23rd, 2014People who undergo increasingly popular genetic testing could be penalized, forced to pay higher premiums or denied coverage for certain policies.
On Dialogue: Disability Studies and Science & Technology Studiesby Laura MauldinSomatosphereMay 19th, 2014The intersection of disability studies with science and technology studies can illuminate how we understand, act upon, cope with, and expect others to cope with human bodies.
Advancing the Disability Rights Perspective on Bioethics Issuesby Diane ColemanNot Dead YetMay 2nd, 2014The first ever Disability Rights Leadership Institute on Bioethics drew more than 60 participants.
NIPS SPINby Robert RestaThe DNA ExchangeApril 21st, 2014Every few years a new screening technology comes zooming down the prenatal pike, sometimes arriving more quickly than we might like. The latest iteration – Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening – stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Genetic Inheritance: How Much do you Want to Know?by Stuart JeffriesThe GuardianApril 4th, 2014Scientist Sharon Moalem says we will soon be able to alter our children's lives with genetic manipulation – would you do it if you could?
A Disturbing Trend: Conscience Clauses Threaten Genetic Counselingby Alex SternHuffington PostApril 2nd, 2014Conscience clauses place genetic counselors in an untenable predicament: State laws and hospital directives are in conflict with professional ethics and best practices.
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