Disabled And Broody: My Impossible Choice


20140520Award-winning presenter Julie Fernandez draws on personal experience to explore an agonising decision: whether to have children, if it means passing on disabilities?

Julie's children would have a 50/50 chance of inheriting her brittle bone disease and she and her husband decided not to take the risk. It was a painful choice - at odds with Julie's strongly-felt beliefs about disability equality.

In this programme she talks with disarming honesty to others faced with a similar choice, including actor Warwick Davis and wife Sam who have two children - both have inherited Warwick's condition, a rare form of dwarfism. She also follows a couple embarking on a complex form of reproductive medicine. Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis is a type of IVF treatment which involves screening embryos for genetic defects at only 8 cells. It offers many disabled parents their only chance of having the healthy baby they long for. But making the choice not to pass on disability raises complex issues. As Julie herself says, "If my parents had made that choice, I would not be here."

Whilst some fear the recent developments in genetic screening are a form of eugenics, contributors also talk about the painfully raw feelings passing on a disability can evoke.

Julie Fernandez asks the big questions about a philosophically challenging issue which divides disabled people in this country; and reveals our attitudes to disability generally.

Presenter: Julie Fernandez

Contributors: Roberto Ruiz, Sophie Ruiz, Mike, Aurelia, Micheline Mason, Lucy Mason, Warwick Davis, Sam Davis.

Producers: Elizabeth Burke Hilary Dunn

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.