May 19, 2008

A deaf couple in the UK who already have one deaf daughter are considering using in vitro fertilization to help conceive a second deaf child before an approaching date when Parliament may issue a law that would block their efforts and force them to choose a hearing embryo.

The couple, Tomato Lichy and 41-year-old Paula Garfield, say Garfield’s age is becoming a factor in their plans to have a second child. In vitro fertilization could not only help them achieve an expiditious pregnancy, but through careful engineering, assure the child is born deaf. The couple’s efforts have touched off debate in the UK over the ethics and outcomes of eugenics.

During an appearance on British television earlier this year Garfield said, "…if there were 4 eggs…and the doctor said one of those embryos is deaf, then naturally I would want to choose the deaf embryo. It’s the same as people who have religious beliefs maybe wanting to have their baby circumcised for example.

"It’s a choice they make because they want the baby to be part of their own culture. I would choose a deaf baby because of the history and the culture that I have and I would want that to pass it on."

A video report by CNN posted today can be seen at:

— Frank Long