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Thread: Designing a Deaf Baby, what ethical issues does it raise?

  1. #1
    Dylan2010
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    Default Designing a Deaf Baby, what ethical issues does it raise?

    An interesting ethical dilemma , is it "right" to set out to have a deaf baby? or even stronger to select one as part of an IVF treatment? At one end at the extreme it could be argued that its little different to the Slumdog approach of taking away one of the senses, to its an "equality" issue and that deaf people have the same rights as everyone else and that that particular baby wouldnt be born unless the deaf couple positively chose it.

    To the best of my knowledge its not allowed in the UK as part an IVF treatment but obviously there is nothing illegal in seeking out a deaf doner to increase the odds as part of a regular conception.

    I only raise this purely as a discussion topic to see how other other posters run this thought their ethical prism. Its a minor issue in the scheme of things. My main ethical issue would be creating a deliberate burden on the taxpayer via additional educational or welfare costs which falls outside of any "insurance" view of taxation you might have. In the future what if it was possible to mapipulate a gene to cause deafness in a healthy foetus?

    thoughts or views?


    a random article for info

    Breaking News: The Ethics of Designing a Deaf Baby : The Hearing Journal

    A deaf couple from Maryland, Candace McCullough and Sharon Duchesneau, made headlines in 2002 when they spoke with The Washington Post about their decision to seek out a deaf sperm donor. (The Washington Post March 31, 2002.) (See FastLinks.) The donor had generations of deafness in his family, and Ms. McCullough and Ms. Duchesneau wanted to ensure that their children, Jehanne and Gauvin, would also be deaf. It's not illegal in the United States to use assisted reproductive technology to try to conceive a deaf child, though the couple was turned down by several sperm banks before turning to a family friend.
    “Some people look at it like, ‘You shouldn't have a child who has a disability.’ But, you know, black people have harder lives. Why shouldn't parents be able to go ahead and pick a black donor if that's what they want,” Ms. McCullough asked the Post in 2002. “They should have that option. They can feel related to that culture, bonded with that culture.”
    Several years later, a British couple, Thomas Lichy and Paula Garfield, protested against laws that would prohibit selecting a disabled embryo when a normal one was available. The proposed amendment was specifically aimed at situations in which deaf parents tried to use assisted reproduction to produce or select deaf embryos. (The Telegraph April 13, 2008.) (See FastLinks.)

  2. #2
    Politics.ie Member Toland's Avatar
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    Any ethical questions are easily answered.

    No such attempt should be facilitated by anyone in the medical professions.

    The analogy between having a deaf child and having a black child is ridiculous.

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    Politics.ie Member SilverSpurs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toland View Post
    Any ethical questions are easily answered.

    No such attempt should be facilitated by anyone in the medical professions.

    The analogy between having a deaf child and having a black child is ridiculous.
    What about their 'right to choose'?????

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    Politics.ie Member Toland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilverSpurs View Post
    What about their 'right to choose'?????

    One question mark is always enough!

    We are talking about a baby here, not just a clump of cells that has the potential to develop into a baby.

    PS: Try to keep the abortion issue to the many abortion threads. Link to this thread if you must, but try not to derail it with another, entirely separate issue.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toland View Post
    We are talking about a baby here, not just a clump of cells that has the potential to develop into a baby.
    Well, no, we're not. We're talking about selecting which cells are going to develop into a baby on the basis of the characteristics of those cells. We're not, for example, talking about taking a five-year-old and destroying his hearing (though we might be talking about taking a foetus or embryo and interfering in such a way as to destroy a capacity for hearing).

  6. #6
    Dylan2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toland View Post
    Any ethical questions are easily answered.

    No such attempt should be facilitated by anyone in the medical professions.

    The analogy between having a deaf child and having a black child is ridiculous.
    I'd agree that a doctor shouldnt be forced to implement this choice and I'd have to guess that medical associations would be against this and would prevent a sympathetic doctor from going ahead with it and such a doctor would thus risk loosing their licence to practice. It would still leave the association open to legal challenges though using the ever present "equality" ace up the sleeve.

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    Politics.ie Member cabledude's Avatar
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    Where would this stop then. Trying to 'design' a baby with webbed feet to make it a swimming olympian. Or a dwarf baby to make it a movie extra. Babies are people. Not accessories like handbags or iPhones.

    For anyone to even consider genetic selection to conceive a deaf baby is quite disturbing. The theft of such a fundamental sensory ability as hearing is inhumane. Why intentionally bring a baby into this world that has not got the ability to hear music or laughter. Simple stuff. If a baby is naturally born deaf, fair enough. Help the little mite with all the technology available to mankind. But to select a sperm donor who is deaf in the hopes of conceiving a deaf baby is just disturbing.

    Some people should not be allowed to keep pets. Never mind have children.
    Stand there in silence, look up to the sky and remember how brave they were.

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    Politics.ie Member ruserious's Avatar
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    I'm sorry but nobody has a right to chose whether they can have a disabled child. The child's welfare is number one unless the mother's life is at risk.
    Boycott the "Irish" Sun rag.

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    Politics.ie Member Dame_Enda's Avatar
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    Setting out to create a person and to give them a serious disability should be illegal.
    Fair and Balanced

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    Politics.ie Member Toland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stringjack View Post
    Well, no, we're not. We're talking about selecting which cells are going to develop into a baby on the basis of the characteristics of those cells. We're not, for example, talking about taking a five-year-old and destroying his hearing (though we might be talking about taking a foetus or embryo and interfering in such a way as to destroy a capacity for hearing).
    We're talking about deliberately creating a baby with a severe disability.

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