By bioethicist Arthur Caplan, writing for MSNBC: Disability-free world may not be a better place
…Gene testing of parental carriers is leading to the birth of fewer and fewer children with inherited diseases in the United States. Other conditions such as Down syndrome, which uses prenatal testing of the fetus, are also apparently being screened out in greater numbers….
…Reducing the burden of disease is obviously a good thing. But genetic testing of parents, and, as is now happening with increasing frequency, embryos, raises some difficult ethical challenges as well….
There’s an interesting conflict between headline and content, here. In fairness to Caplan, it’s highly unlikely that he got to choose the headline. Still, it’s interesting to point out that the claim suggested by the headline appears nowhere in Caplan’s article. As far as I can see, Caplan doesn’t contemplate what a disability-free world would be like, let alone reaching a conclusion about such a world. I’m pretty sure there are people who argue that the world with disabilities is better than a world without them — perhaps because they think that the rest of us learn something valuable about diversity and tolerance from exposure to persons with disabilities, and this outweighs the difficulties faced by persons with disabilities themselves. But Caplan himself doesn’t make that argument.
The question Caplan tackles is actually quite a different one: what will life be like for people with disabilities in a world in which the number of such persons is reduced, but not reduced to zero?