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The gene-editing technology CRISPR promises enormous potential as a therapeutic for curing illnesses, including potentially devising new vaccines. 

But the disabled community is becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility of using CRISPR to eliminate so-called defective genes in the embryo. This raises profound questions about what it means to be disabled and the need to embrace diversity. Sandy Sufian is a disability studies scholar and historian of medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

SUFIAN: CRISPR has undoubted value in its original conception for antibiotics, therapeutics and medical treatments. The idea that you might be able to attenuate a virus like COVID using CRISPR, for example, could be considered very positive, because it would end a pandemic that has cost millions of lives. My concern is about CRISPR’s germline uses, which seek to edit out genes considered defective from the human genome entirely. 

The Danger of Treating Some Genes As ‘Bad’

There are serious debates going on in bioethics circles about using CRISPR for “embryo editing,” that is, germline editing. Behind... see more