Gene editing in light of the right to human dignity and freedom from discrimination of unborn disabled persons
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This paper discusses CRISPR-Cas 9’s resulting effect on disabled persons and the implication of its application on their human dignity and freedom from discrimination. This gene editing technology could be advantageous, in that it could reduce human suffering. It enables prenatal screening, carrying out predictive tests, detecting etc and eventually editing out undesirable genetic characteristics. Advantages of gene editing as per the international summit on gene editing include increasing tolerance to the environment, preventing aging and modifying mental capabilities. Gene editing enables alteration of these undesirable traits that could make the child disabled, which then pre-empts parents to discard their unborn children’s disability traits since disability is viewed as a ‘disease’. Such traits include traits that cause Huntington’s disease, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell. It is therefore foreseeable, that easy access to the technology due to low costs will result in the wide misuse of the technology. This eventuality would be considered advantageous to some while others are concerned that it will increase stigmatization of disabled persons. ‘Correcting’ disability and filtering out genetic disabilities reduces the dignity of the human person to their genetic make-up rather than the very essence of being human. This research seeks to determine whether gene editing is discriminatory and whether international instruments adequately provide protection for the dignity and freedom from discrimination of disabled persons and the unborn foetus. However, it is important to note that legislation will not prevent parents from being biased on the genetic traits of their unborn children.