Preventing the selection of “deaf embryos” under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 : problematizing disability?

Porter, Gerard & Smith, Malcolm K. (2013) Preventing the selection of “deaf embryos” under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 : problematizing disability? New Genetics & Society, 32(2), pp. 171-189.

View at publisher


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).

Impact and interest:

2 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 60263
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, PGD, Deafness, deaf, disability
DOI: 10.1080/14636778.2013.788355
ISSN: 1463-6778
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > OTHER LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (189900) > Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified (189999)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Taylor & Francis
Deposited On: 27 May 2013 22:15
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2013 15:49

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page