BIOUNCERTAINTY - ERC Starting Grant no. 805498
3rd September 2019: research seminar - Ilana Löwy (CNRS) - Prenatal diagnosis and disability rights
We have the pleasure to invite You for yet another research seminar in the ‘BIOUNCERTAINTY’ research project. The subject of the seminar is ‘Prenatal diagnosis and disability rights’ and it will be delivered by prof. Ilana Löwy from CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique). The seminar will take place on Tuesday, 3rd September, at 5:30pm in room 25 of the Institute of Philosophy, 52 Grodzka Street.
Prof. Löwy is the author of many books on history and philosophy of medicine, including I. Löwy, Tangled Diagnoses. Prenatal Testing, Women, and Risk, Chicago University Press 2018; I. Löwy, A Woman's Disease: A History of Cervical Cancer, Oxford University Press, 2011; I. Löwy, The Polish School of Philosophy of Medicine: From Tytus Chalubinski to Ludwik Fleck, Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1990.
My talk will be focused on the intersection of prenatal diagnosis and disability rights. An abortion for a foetal anomaly (the refusal of this child) is presented today by many disability activists as more condamnable that an abortion for the rejection of maternity (the refusal of a child), because a termination of pregnancy with an impaired fetus is an implicit statement that life with disability is worthless. The latter argument, named “expressivist objection” to selective abortion, is presented in absolute and immuable terms: an “eugenic abortion” is, and always had been morally wrong. Yet attitudes to the definition of life and the status of embryos, fetuses, and even premature babies changed with time, as did those to an abortion for a fetal anomaly. Moreover, the emotionally powerful “expressivist objection” to selective abortion is a problematic concept. It lumps together very different situations and levels of disability, extrapolates from “exemplary disabilities,” often compatible with autonomous life, to all the other inborn impairments, and neglects the thorny issue of care for severely disabled children and adults, usually provided by family members, above all mothers. Disability activists’ strong claims also mask the existence of important differences of opinions among people living with disabilities. Arguments advanced in debate for and against abortion following an infection with Zika virus during pregnancy display the multiple layers of the debate on abortion for a fetal impairment.
Language of the event is English.