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It's a Sin? Genetics and Disabled People

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 09:09 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 38.8 
  • Words: 1207
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\"Soon it will be a sin for parents to have a child that carries the heavy burden of genetic disease. We are entering a world where we have to consider the quality of our children\". So said Bob Edwards, world-renowned embryologist and IVF pioneer (Sunday Times, 4 July 1999).\"

This view is reminiscent of medieval religious ideas of disability being punishment for \"the sins of the fathers\". Talking about the genetic \"quality control\" of children as a new public responsibility is reminiscent of ideas prevalent in the 1930s about threats to the population stock from those classed as \"imbeciles\", criminals or alcoholics. What do such ideas about the supposed new responsibilities arising from genetic knowledge mean for disabled people and society as a whole?

Genetics is a fast-paced field of scientific development. Disabled people are involved by default because our impairments are used as justification for enormous resources being used for research. In fact, the big bucks may reside more in the increasingly consumer-led approach to reproduction - \"positive eugenics\" - and the tests to screen out individuals with \"bad genes\" - \"negative eugenics\" - rather than in effective treatments for people with quite rare genetic conditions.

In addition, \"new hope\" for disabled people is accompanied by the danger of disabled people and others experiencing increased discrimination in employment, insurance, healthcare provision and education. This is where disabled people feel a responsibility to raise the alarm. There shouldn\'t be unfair discrimination in our health service, in employment, in insurance - but there is. For years, disabled people have been turned down for jobs that they were qualified for, denied or charged high premiums for insurance for spurious reasons. The discrimination that disabled people have faced and continue to face should act as a warning about what may come.

Many in society see...


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