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Genetic Modification and Implicit Bias Against People with Disabilities Essay

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Updated: Jun 24th, 2022

Though the concept of genetic technologies and alterations appear to be a stepping stone in advancing social and economic aspects of humanity, they set an incredibly ambiguous standard for disability. In 2013, the world was first introduced to CRISPR genome editing, and years later, an arguable claim was made by He Jiankui, a scientist, regarding the modification of twins to be HIV-immune (Fahn, 2020). In its essence, genetic modification allows for the creation of embryos that are physically and intellectually superior to other offspring. The perception of this technology is expressed greatly in media and fictional works, such as Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca (Kremmel, 2018). The depiction and subversion of characters with disabilities within the film illustrate a matching set of values in the current society. As such, I find that advocacy for genetic alterations places significantly economically driven worth on individuals. I do not personally think that being successful, physically, financially, or intellectually, to be the primary purpose of life or co-existence in a community.

In my opinion, the relation of a person with disabilities to others are greatly influenced by their current or past financial status, social support, exposure to individuals with disabilities, and ability to provide for dependants. There is also a factor of disabilities that are life-threatening to a child, or illnesses that may be able to be fatal within the first few years of life. In such cases, it would be understandable why certain parents would prefer to secure their child’s well-being and length of life. I find that health to be a much more vital factor when it comes to happiness and life satisfaction than financial security, social acceptance, and career or academic success. Due to my personal philosophy, I would only rely on genetic modification in the case of a fatal or life-threatening difficulty for my child.

Disabilities such as blindness, deafness, Down syndrome, and other disabilities which do not endanger the life of a child have often been subjected to ostracization and inequality. I advocate for the acceptance and normalization of people with disabilities as equal citizens and not inferior in any legal, social, and professional manner. As such, if my child was certain to be disabled or ill, I would decline any alteration as long as their difficulties were not life-threatening. However, an individual’s acceptance of the normality of disabled people is only the beginning of the approach I think is essential in order to integrate them into all areas of a community. Facilities such as schools, universities, or workplaces must provide accessible and diverse modes of interaction between the education and the students, or the work and the employees. Current methods of teaching and employment are divisive and contribute to the ideology that people with disabilities are less capable or less desired, which is untrue.

If the creation of “designer babies” was a social norm, I would continue to abstain from modifying my own child. There have been theories made around the multitude of negative effects concerning genetically modified offspring. Some of them include the lack of diversity in a community’s gene pool, possible human error during the surgical procedure, violation of the child’s rights, or accidental removal of potentially vital genes. But on a basic level, I would not find my child less desirable or accomplished if they had a disability or not. This is because my personal values align with the happiness of the child, which is not reliant on financial, career, or physical abilities. However, health is an element I find important but not a deciding factor, many disabilities are manageable in our current time and can be easily handled in a society where the government is able to provide social welfare.

Implicit bias refers to a concept in which people act on their basis of stereotypes or prejudice without being intentional or aware of doing so. Psychologists in the study of “implicit social cognition” have observed the phenomena in things like consumer products, political values, and self-esteem (Saul, 2017). However, the majority of studies focus on bias towards socially ostracized groups, such as women, the LGBTQ community, or African Americans (Saul, 2017). Such biases are usually not reflective of what an individual may communicate as their beliefs and values but can be observed nevertheless. In the workplace, a male colleague may describe himself as believing women to be equally competent in the workplace as men, but may perform actions that suggest otherwise unconsciously. For instance, they may mistrust feedback from female colleagues or hire and work with male employees only, despite the female applicants having identical qualifications and skills.

The same unconscious assessment may be made towards people with disabilities. People with implicit bias against disabled people may be less likely to hire them in the workplace and try to steer them away from positions that they are suited for but may be demanding (Michigan State University, 2019). Disabilities that restrict communication may isolate individuals and non-disabled peers or acquaintances may be unwilling to learn to converse with them. I believe my placement on the implicit bias test reflects my ideology and philosophy accurately. I think my willingness to interact and learn from colleagues or friends with disabilities assists me in discovering more about the world, whether it is in a professional or social context. However, I will have to take steps to understand what is needed of me as a non-disabled person in such an environment and be respectful.

Reference

Fahn, C. W. (2020). Philosophies, 5(2), 6. Web.

Michigan State University. (2019). The unpopular truth about biases toward people with disabilities. Science Daily. Web.

Kremmel, L., R. (2018). Disability in science fiction: Representations of technology as cure. Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, 29(3), 462-464.

Saul, J. (2017). Implicit bias, stereotype threat, and epistemic injustice. In I. J. Kidd, J. Medina & G. Pohlhaus, Jr (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice (pp. 235-242). Routledge.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Genetic Modification and Implicit Bias Against People with Disabilities." June 24, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/genetic-modification-and-implicit-bias-against-people-with-disabilities/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Genetic Modification and Implicit Bias Against People with Disabilities'. 24 June.

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