AFA Denounces FDAs Approval of Newborn Stem Cell Experimentation

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Audism Free America (AFA), a grassroots Deaf activist network, condemns the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its approval of a study which will use cord blood stem cells on infants as young as six weeks old in an effort to eradicate the Deaf population of the United States.

Deaf babies are healthy babies and live fulfilling and contributing lives.

Audism Free America (AFA), a grassroots Deaf activist network, condemns the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its approval of a study which will use cord blood stem cells on infants as young as six weeks old in an effort to eradicate the Deaf population of the United States.

AFA further denounces the FDA, Cord Blood Registry ®, LSL/AVT specialists,*Children’s Memorial Hospital (Houston), and the principal investigators of this study for undermining the human rights of their patients and promoting eugenic outcomes.

The newswire released on January 12, 2012 from Cord Blood Registry and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital states that parents of newborns and infants between six weeks to 18 months will be recruited. The infants will undergo MRIs (which frequently include sedation), blood tests, and be given their own stored stem cord blood via IV infusions. Possible health risks to the infant were not mentioned.

The newswire contained alarmist views of how being Deaf impacts language abilities and social development without describing research concerning the negative impact of withholding American Sign Language and access to cultural identification with other Deaf people.

When contacted, Dr. Harlan Lane, Distinguished Professor at Northeastern University and recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award stated: “Children who are born Deaf or early become so have a dual heritage – they have their parents’ ethnicity and also that of the sign language minority; their natural language is American Sign Language. Exclusively pathological views of Deaf children have been out of date for decades. Deaf babies are healthy babies and live fulfilling and contributing lives.”

AFA advocates for the rights of Deaf Americans, cultural resurgence, and seeks primarily to challenge the ideological foundations of audism in America. Audism is attitudes and practices based on the assumption that behaving in the ways of those who speak and hear is desired and best. It produces a system of privilege, thus resulting in stigma, bias, discrimination, and prejudice—in overt or covert ways—against Deaf culture, American Sign Language, and Deaf people of all walks of life.

AFA calls upon governmental agencies to ensure their commitment to protecting all citizens, including Deaf newborns and infants. The actions by the FDA serve to highlight the medical community’s systematic effort to threaten the culture, language, and right to life of Deaf people—and therefore, endangering linguistic and cultural diversity in the United States.

*LSL/AVT specialists (Listening and Spoken Language/Auditory Verbal Therapists) are those certified by the Alexander Graham Bell Academy and promote oral/aural only approaches to language development excluding all forms of signing.

If you would like more information about Audism Free America please contact Patti Durr, Ruthie Jordan or Karen Christie at AudismFreeAmerica(at)gmail(dot)com

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Patti Durr, Ruthie Jordan & Karen Christie
Audism Free America
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