Preventing the Selection of “Deaf Embryos” Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008: Problematizing Disability?

Autor/a: PORTER, G.; SMITH, M. K.
Año: 2013
Editorial: New Genetics and Society, Vol. 32, nº 2 (2013) pp. 171–189
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Comunidad y cultura sorda


Section 14(4) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 imposes – within the general licensing conditions listed in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 – a prohibition to prevent the selection and implantation of embryos for the purpose of creating a child who will be born with a “serious disability.” This article offers a perspective that demonstrates the problematic nature of the consultation, review, and legislative reform process surrounding s 14(4). The term “serious disability” is not defined within the legislation, but we highlight the fact that s 14(4) was passed with the case of selecting deaf children in mind. We consider some of the literature on the topic of disability and deafness, which, we think, casts some doubt on the view that deafness is a “serious disability.” The main position we advance is that the lack of serious engagement with alternative viewpoints during the legislative process was unsatisfactory. We argue that the contested nature of deafness necessitates a more robust consultation process and a clearer explanation and defence of the normative position that underpins s 14(4).