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EVENTS Archive
Seminar - Engineering Children: What Are the Limits?
Date: March 9, 2012
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building, Room: 120

Maya Sabatello, PhD, LLB
Director of the Disability Rights in Society Program
Columbia University

Scientific developments in the past decades have changed the landscape of the family. IVF procedures, surrogacy agreements, gamete donors and the like have enabled the creation of families in circumstances that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. While some celebrate the new opportunities, others raise concerns about the rise in the number of untraditional families, about the growing phenomenon of “reproductive tourism” and about the pressures on women (particularly in developing countries) and their rights. But there is perhaps no greater challenge than progress in the study of genetics. Genetic manipulation has made it possible to create families with particular compositions – disability-free, with a selected sex or other chosen genetic makeup—giving rise to an acute debate. What is the scope of and limitations on parental reproductive freedom? Can some selections be right and others –wrong? What are the social interests at stake? And what are the rights and interests of the children born as a result in this picture? This presentation will highlight the evolution of the “baby market” and consider the concerns and their possible rebuttal taking an international human rights and cross-cultural perspective.


Dr. Maya Sabatello is the Director of the Disability Rights in Society Program at Columbia's Institute for the Study of Human Rights. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Southern California and an LL.B. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Dr. Sabatello was appointed a Research Fellow in Medical Ethics (2011-12) at Harvard University’s Medical School. She has litigated cases of medical malpractice and has worked as a legal advisor to national and international non-governmental organizations to promote health-related human rights and disability issues. As a permanent representative for a nongovernmental organization at the United Nations (UN), she also participated in the UN sessions on the formulation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Dr. Sabatello teaches at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights and at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs. Her research interests include comparative human rights, law and society, international law, politics of identity, disability studies, and bioethics. Dr. Sabatello has published in journals including Human Rights Quarterly, The Journal of Medicine and Law, Disability and Society, and the International Journal of Children’s Rights. She is author of Children's Bioethics: The International Bio-Political Discourse on Harmful Traditional Practices and the Right of the Child to Cultural Identity (Martinus Nijhoff/ Brill Publishing, 2009), and her book Voices From Within: Civil Society’s Involvement in the Drafting of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (co-edited), is forthcoming (Penn University Press).

The Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building is located on the northeast corner of 33rd and Chestnut Streets.

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