From the UK Telegraph today, deaf couples could be allowed to screen their embryos in order to select a deaf child after protesters persuaded the Government to remove references to deafness from the proposed Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
I can appreciate (although not necessarily agree with) the stance that tampering with any embryo is 'playing God.' Similarly, I can appreciate the arguments that genetic enhancements pose concerns in terms of creating inequities and in terms of eugenics. But I have difficulty understanding, much less appreciating, the argument that a couple should be allowed to genetically 'disenhance' their child. I understand that some deaf couples argue that deafness is not a disability, but rather "being part of a linguistic minority." But maybe it is because I spent too much time in the Rhode Island State House as legislative counsel in the 80's and 90's listening to the testimony of Deaf Advocacy groups lobbying to make sure that public services complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act. I have difficulty reconciling that deafness, under the law, is a recognized disability, but for the purposes of reproductive autonomy, it is not?
My concern about removing the clause banning the creation of disabled children entirely, is why stop at deafness? Aren't the primary purposes of medicine to heal, to cure diseases, restore, and alleviate suffering? One commenter suggests, by way of a 'wrongful birth suit', the imposition of legal liability on the part of the parent to any offspring deliberately brought into the world with less than the normal range of faculties.
So the question is how far does reproductive autonomy go? Nobody wants to see a fellow human being struggle or suffer, especially in the name of 'reproductive autonomy.'