Disability Rights

Disability rights advocates have been among the earliest and most vocal critics of emerging human genetic and assisted reproductive technologies. They are acutely aware that technologies enabling the selection of “good” genes and “normal” traits can devalue the bodies and ultimately the lives of people with disabilities. Their concerns are grounded in histories of discrimination and abuse, notably the twentieth-century state-sponsored sterilization projects in dozens of U.S. states, and the Nazi campaigns to exterminate hundreds of thousands of disabled people in German medical facilities and concentration camps. Today, disability rights advocates remind all of us to ask whether scientific innovations, including prenatal tests, embryo screening, and gene editing for reproduction, are likely to create a future that respects or devalues difference and disability as a part of the human condition.


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In 2011, poet and writer George Estreich wrote about the impact of biotechnology on family life in his first book, The Shape of the Eye. The memoir centers on how his family’s life was changed, and enriched, by the...

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In1961, A college student named David Myers traveled from Washington, DC, to the US Naval School of Aviation Medicine in Florida to take part in a new experiment. “I had a very limited understanding of what I was getting myself into,”...

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Jeff Johnson is 40 years old, and for all 40 of those years, he has been living with hemophilia. The...

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TOKYO -- The Japanese Society for Hygiene, which was active in promoting eugenic policies under the now-defunct eugenic protection law,...

A female, African American protester holds a sign that reads, "Sterilization of mothers violates U.N. charter. Vote No on House Bill 20."

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A black and white print depicting the exterior of the Cheshire Lunatic Asylum.

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Ultrasound image of a baby's head in black and white showing absent nasal bone indicating Down Syndrome.

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Front of Ohio State House. Lawn, building, and two American flags.

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Sketch of a tree with a sign at the top that says "Eugenics"

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Black and white postcard ca. 1910 showing the Sonoma State Home (Hospital).

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