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The right to a deaf child...?

Victoria Derbyshire | 09:01 AM, Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Tomato Lichy and his partner Paula are both deaf. They want to have a child by IVF. But they say a proposed law would force doctors to screen out some embryos likely to develop disabilities including deafness.

Mr Lichy says that's discrimination. He says deaf people are not inferior to hearing people - so why should those embryos be screened out?

Listen to the interview and tell us whether you agree. Does he have the right to have a deaf child?


  1. At 10:41 AM on 12 Mar 2008, Liz wrote:

    Victoria. I have a born-deaf son going through IVF with his hearing wife. The proposal to screen out deaf embyos is yet another symptom of discrimination, arrogance and ignorance of hearing people against deaf people. They would be happy to have a deaf son or daughter IVF or not. As a minority culture in the UK,societys' discrimination against them is -and always has been -as bad as it is towards gypsies and travellers !!Deaf people have their own exceedingly efficient, rich and beautiful visual language. Are the doctors suggesting embryos with dyslexia are also not allowed a right to life? We have heard recently that many of the most successful entrepreneurs in the UK have been dyslexic. The answer? Hearing medics and ethical deciders - LISTEN to deaf people themselves. Rethink this eugenic policy!

  2. At 12:25 PM on 12 Mar 2008, John Cudlip wrote:

    I have a child who has been blind from birth. He also has some learning difficulties. However Ben is Ben - he is happy and has not had to have the pain of loss as he knows no difference. A child who is born deaf does not know the loss of something we take for granted. The test and interference should not happen. My observation in both the business and social world is that there is a very strong deaf community who prefer to mix with other deaf people - where is the problem?

  3. At 03:25 PM on 12 Mar 2008, barstep wrote:

    According to one caller deaf people become so frustrated with their deafness they may try to commit suicide.
    The problem with the callers’ argument is that if we stop the birth of babies with any kind of disability we devalue all people with disabilities. Their frustration of course is often caused by those who don’t or can’t be bothered to understand how to communicate with them.
    In many ways the the problem afflicts everyone. How many times have you been frustrated because someone else didn’t take the time to understand what you were trying to say. Deaf people simply help us realise how poor we are at communicating. Perhaps it’s a British thing and explains why we shout in English at people who don’t speak our language thinking that somehow it’s their problem and volume will penetrate their stupidity.
    read more

  4. At 09:46 AM on 14 Mar 2008, Helen wrote:

    They are only opposed to screening, they do not want a deaf child. They clearly do not want to play God and decide that one child has more right to life than another even if it is born deaf. Try listening to the actual story, not the one you want to hear.

  5. At 09:50 PM on 10 Apr 2008, Mark wrote:


    Deaf people seem, on the basis of the few studies that are statistically decent and well structured to have possibly a higher rate of suicide than the general population - but the studies are so small that it would be too much to place great weight on this.

    As a deaf man, deafened (made deaf) in the last year, I can understand the attractions of suicide. Not a days goes by without the strain of working so hard to lipread, dealing with tinnitus that doesn't let up, and feeling a failure (and, moreover, regarded as a bit of a problem by others) making me at least feel it is all too much. I may not commit suicide - but I now have a daily, insistent, powerful reason for one day finding it all too much and throwing myself under the next train.

    Deafness is isolating, Society (people) doesn't know how to deal with it. It's even thought OK to laugh openly when I mishear and misconstrue - even when I am working 10 times harder than everyone else in the room to engage with communication. Humiliation, tiredness, frustration, even pain - it's a powerful mix and enough to drive anyone suffering long enough to suicide.

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