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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.



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.
FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancementby Jonathan ChernoguzBiopolitical TimesNovember 12th, 2014The documentary produced and directed by Regan Brashear is receiving a new round of well-deserved positive attention around the world.
How the Pro-Choice Movement Excludes People With Disabilitiesby Lenzi SheibleRH Reality CheckOctober 17th, 2014If we in the pro-choice movement don’t start paying serious attention to the ways in which our own practices contribute to the dehumanization of people with disabilities, we can’t keep claiming to operate under a reproductive justice framework at all.
Three Years On, What Have We Learned About Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening?by Mark LeachDown Syndrome Prenatal TestingOctober 17th, 2014Three years ago, a new prenatal test for Down syndrome entered the market offering earlier, safer, and more accurate results. What have we learned about this new technology since then?
State to Send Out About 200 Eugenics Paymentsby Meghann EvansWinston-Salem JournalOctober 1st, 2014The first eugenics compensation payments are to be sent out by Oct. 31, and a second payment will be sent to victims next year.
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