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Deaf lesbians choose to try for deaf child

Dr Kirsty Horsey

Progress Educational Trust

17 April 2002

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[BioNews, London] An American lesbian couple have become the parents of children that have been labelled as the world's first 'designer deaf children', provoking criticism from many directions.

Sharon Duchesneau and Candace McCullogh, who are both deaf themselves, have a five-year old daughter and a five-month old son, Gauvin. Both of the children are deaf 'by choice' - their mothers privately sought out a deaf sperm donor after fertility clinics refused to do so, saying that congenital deafness was the type of condition that would preclude men being accepted as donors.

The donor is a family friend, who has five generations of deafness in his family. He had previously donated the sperm that led to the birth of five-year old Johanne, who is profoundly deaf and can only communicate by sign language. Baby Gauvin was born with some hearing in one ear, and may be able to wear a hearing aid when he is older.

The women defend their decision, saying that they would not have rejected a hearing child, just that they hoped for children that were deaf as they would be able to share the same cultural identity as their parents. They say that their decision is no different to choosing the colour or gender of a child.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 17 April 2002   Date Updated: 12 September 2004
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