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Coleman, Carl H. “Conceiving Harm: Disability Discrimination in Reproductive Technologies.” UCLA Law Review 50 (2002): 102–56.


This article considers the challenges of applying the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to denials of assisted reproduction treatments (ART) to disabled persons.  Coleman develops a comparative framework for applying the ADA in a way that considers doctor’s ethical obligations to these treatments, disabled people’s rights, and the interests of future children. Coleman thoroughly explains ART and the history behind assisted reproduction treatment denials to people with HIV and other disabilities. Coleman explains that doctors have ethical concerns when helping disabled individuals give birth to children who may be at high risk for being severely disabled. In order to address the conflicting concerns of the doctors with the interest of disabled patients, Coleman proposes a framework that compares the impact of a variety of reproductive decisions. This framework moves away from asking the question of whether one severely impaired child’s life would be worth living, instead it considers other options available and supports the decision that would result in a future child suffering less. Providing both case law and an ethical approach to disability rights when it comes to ART, Coleman provides suggestions for how to apply the ADA and ensure the reproductive rights of disabled persons are respected while still appreciating the concerns of doctors and potential future suffering of children. This article is clearly written and easy to follow and would be an interesting read for people concerned with the reproductive rights of the disabled community. The topics are legal, but accessible and would provide a great background for both legal advocates and community organizers.


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Legislation/policy   Disability justice   Assisted reproductive technology   Ethics   History