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INCET research seminar - Ilana Löwy (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) - Prenatal diagnosis and disability rights

Date: 03.09.2019
Start Time: 5.30 p.m.
Place: Institute of Philosophy, ul. Grodzka 52, Room 25
Organiser: The Interdisciplinary Centre for Ethics at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków

Professor Ilana Löwy (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) will deliver a lecture: "Prenatal Diagnosis and Disability Rights"


Prof. Löwy has authored a number of monographs in the history and the philosophy of medicine, in particular: 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 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.

The seminar will be held in English.



Download files
On Objectivity in Prenatal Genetic Care
Balancing Risks: PND and the “Prevention of Disability”