Wow, that's a tough one...  

wellendowed553 37M
28 posts
6/24/2006 9:52 am

Last Read:
7/11/2006 4:04 pm

Wow, that's a tough one...

I'll admit, I'm a Public Radio addict. Call me what you will (nerd, geek, dork, whatever), but listening to NPR during the day really helps me get through my dull, drab job. I love hearing the conversations, debates, and interviews; on topics like politics, science, art, and society. Fridays are my favorite because in the afternoon, they talk about the latest science issues. This week, they talked a little about human cloning and where are studies in genetics has taken us recently. One person phoned in with a very good question.

A woman caller explained that when she and her husband decided to have a baby, they consulted with a doctor to see if they could screen their embryos for deafness. Deafness ran in her husbands family, and they wanted to make sure that their children wouldn't carry the gene that could possibly cause them to be deaf. The doctor told them that they could screen the embryos, and could also inform the parents if any of the embryos did have the gene, but the doctor would not tell them which of the individual embryos had the gene. When the couple asked why, the doctor replied that deafness was not a disease, and even though our society considers it to be a disability, deaf people can live rich, full lives. Deafness is a naturally occurring variation in humans according to the doctor.

I'm not certain if all doctors share the same view as the doctor the caller consulted. My guess is that there are as many doctors with different opinions on this situation as there are patients. But in a rapidly approaching age, when future parents can screen their embryos for diseases or other disabilities, should we as a society make a determination as to what is a disability and what is a naturally occurring human variation? Like deafness or blindness. How about Downs Syndrome, Autism, Huntington's disease, or even something that wouldn't effect the child until later in life like heart disease, Alzheimer's, or Parkinson's.

Should society even be making this determination, or is it something best left up to the parents alone? Was the doctor preforming ethically when he wouldn't identify which embryos carried the gene in question at the parent's request?

Saorise2 38F

6/24/2006 11:34 am

I listened to that broadcast as well, and I have to agree with the doctor. Screening for deafness is one thing, at least to be prepared, but to try to take away a percieved fault? No.

Individuality is special.

wellendowed553 37M

6/24/2006 1:43 pm

I agree, individuality is important...variety is the spice of life. At least I'm not the only one who listens to Public Radio.

rm_B_O_H_I_C_A 54M
342 posts
6/25/2006 5:32 am

No, you're not.
I listen when i can and check their site often myself...

To answer, I would also agree with the Dr.
Although it would be "nice" to be informed of any potential "disabilities" or "difficulties", I don't think most people would react rationally to that information.
...And that's really a shame.

Hydragenias 57F

6/25/2006 8:53 am

It would be interesting to get a deaf person's opinion on this. We are kind of shooting off at the mouth here about variety being the spice of life and individuality being important. I wonder if given the choice, would a person with a disability and/or disease prefer to NOT be a "variety" or THAT "individual" or would they rather be "normal". Would prevention be more humane? I would have to give this a lot more thought before coming to an agreement/disagreement with the Dr.

rm_B_O_H_I_C_A 54M
342 posts
6/26/2006 4:20 am

Hy ... are you following me?

wellendowed553 37M

6/26/2006 6:34 pm

Great answers...

It's hard to look at these situations objectively without losing the human element and without incorporating personal values. It's always good to hear other peoples opinions on issues like find the middle ground, we have to see where the ends are first.

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