Advocates Oppose NIH Bio-Ethicist's Stand On Genetic Testing
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 25, 2002
GOLETA, CALIFORNIA--Last week, National Institutes of Health biomedical ethicist Dan W. Brock told an audience at the University of Rhode Island that the United States would benefit if children with disabilities were prevented from being born.
Brock, who said that his views do not represent the federal government or the National Institutes of Health, was defending the use of genetic testing to screen out certain disabilities because, he said, "it would be better if the children who are born don't have that condition."
Brock said that his ideas regarding genetic testing have nothing to do with how people with disabilities should be treated. "Even after we've made all the accommodations of justice and equality of opportunity, there would still be some residual disadvantage from being seriously cognitively disabled or being blind," he said.
Penny Reeder, who is blind, disagrees.
"How dare he say that he's not denigrating people with disabilities when he's advocating aborting a pregnancy of a potential person with a disability," Reeder told the Cybercast News Service.
"It's just amazing to me," said Reeder, who pointed to her job as a magazine editor as evidence that blind people can be successful.
Terry Boisot read Brock's comments.
"Blindness and severe cognitive dysfunction are two disabilities Brock would prevent," Boisot wrote in response.
Boisot's son, Ben, was born deaf and blind. He also has cognitive and physical disabilities.
"Lives are enriched because of Ben," she wrote.
In an extremely candid column, Boisot told the story behind her son's birth -- a story she has shared with very people up to this point.