Debating Deafness and Embryo Selection: Are We Undermining Reproductive Confidence in the Deaf Community?

Progress Educational Trust
Techniquest, Stuart Street, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff CF10 5BW
9th April 2008

An evening debate at Techniquest organised by the Progress Educational Trust (PET) in partnership with the Wales Gene Park, supported by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People and the Wellcome Trust.

Clause 14 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill says that in assisted reproduction, embryos known to be at risk of developing 'serious physical or mental disability' or 'serious illness' must not be preferred to embryos where there is no such risk. In the official Explanatory Notes to the Bill, and also during proceedings in the House of Lords, it has been specified that Clause 14 will prevent selecting embryos for deafness. This has prompted fierce debate, with critics of Clause 14 arguing that it impedes reproductive liberty and undermines reproductive confidence, while supporters of Clause 14 argue that the deliberate creation of deaf babies is immoral. Others have pointed to unintended consequences of Clause 14 for assisted reproduction, beyond prohibiting so-called 'designer deafness'. This public debate will see experts debate the issues from contrasting perspectives.

There will be a palantypist and two British Sign Language interpreters at this event.