Deafness, culture, and choice
Source TitleJOURNAL OF MEDICAL ETHICS
PublisherBRITISH MED JOURNAL PUBL GROUP
University of Melbourne Author/sLEVY, NEIL
AffiliationPhilosophy, Anthropology And Social Inquiry
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsLevy, N. (2002). Deafness, culture, and choice. JOURNAL OF MEDICAL ETHICS, 28 (5), pp.284-285. https://doi.org/10.1136/jme.28.5.284.
Access StatusAccess this item via the Open Access location
Open Access at PMChttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1733648
C1 - Journal Articles Refereed
The recent controversy surrounding the choice, by a deaf lesbian couple, to have children who were themselves deaf, has focused attention on the ethics of choosing (apparent) disabilities for children. Deaf activists argue that deafness is not a disability, but instead the constitutive condition of access to a rich culture. Being deaf carries disadvantages with it, but these are a product of discrimination, not of the condition itself. It is, however, implausible to think that all the disadvantages which stem from deafness are social in origin. Moreover, though it may be true that being deaf carries with it the important compensation of access to a rich culture, no physical condition is required for such access. Cultures are simply the kind of things to which we are born, and therefore to which the children of deaf parents, hearing or deaf, normally belong. Thus these parents are making a mistake in choosing deafness for their children. Given their own experience of isolation as children, however, it is a mistake which is understandable, and our reaction to them ought to be compassion, not condemnation.
KeywordsBiotechnology not elsewhere classified ; Applied Ethics (incl. Bioethics and Environmental Ethics); Bioethics
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