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Bioethics : what are the implications for disabled people

A DPI-Italy seminar - Reggio Calabria, October 20 - 21.


   This  seminar was wanted , organised and run by disabled people and   parents of disabled people  and  its outcome satisfied everyone : from professor Giovanni Incorvati, member of the Italian Bioethics Committee to the Cabinet, to the last persons  who , having heard of the seminar, arrived the second day to register .

   The seminar took place in the multifunctional room of the  Directional Centre of Reggio Calabria, on 20th and 21st of October. More than  one hundred people  from all over Italy participated.

   The work was divided in three phases :  a plenary in the morning of the  20th , four workshops in the afternoon (one for every issue) and  a round table discussion  in the morning of the 21st

The meeting , moderated by the Councillor of Social Politics Mr Giovanni Pensabene , was introduced  by the European Chairman of Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI) Giampiero Griffo , who reported on ‘People with disability discuss about new genetics’.  Professor Francesco Iuliano, assistant at the Division  of Haematology and Oncology of the Pugliese Hospital in Catanzaro, illustrated , by means of slides, how the  concept of ‘the right to be born’ depends on the culture. Mac Intyre affirms that in the rich Western World:  ‘to prevent the birth of a  terribly defective child , and the emotional and economical destruction of a family  abortion is the best choice to be made’, while infanticide of a female foetus or a newborn baby girl  is perfectly legal in China. We might learn something from the African world , where a Sango proverb says ‘Zo we Zo’ , ‘a man is a man’.

   Rita Barbuto, the Italian DPI chairman, said that there is an urgent need to increase awareness amongst disabled people  and their parents on issues related to bioethics  in order to make them  take up their corresponding responsability.

   Professor Salvatore Pietro Paolo Guglielmino, of the Microbiological, Genetical and  e Molecular Sciences  of the University of  Messina, showed how the human genome is a common characteristic of mankind .

   Professor Guglielmino ‘s report  and the one of Mr Corrado Viafora of the  Lanza Foundation in Padova, who talked about ‘the quality of prenatal diagnosis’ stimulated the  reaction,of the head physician of the department of Medical Genetics at the Riuniti Hospital in Reggio Calabria , Doctor Carmelo Laganą. He insisted on  the necessity of research to avoid and combat genetic diseases , he showed his deep humanity and sufferance  every time he had to diagnose , often with a descrete margin of error , genetic disorder in a foetus.   This discussion  took place in the afternoon workshop , where he was a participating observer .

   The speakers of the workshops were members of the Bioethic group of DPI Italy, the  participating observers were important professionals from the city of Reggio.

   A workgroup,  chaired by Emilia Napolitano with the collaboration of the Lawyer Francesca Panuccio,  elaborated the proposals to modify the article 6 comma B) of the 194 Law ;  Generoso di Benedetto with the participation of Doctor Carmelo Laganą , related on the issue of the participation of disabled people in choices regarding genetics.    

   Pasquale Ezio Loiacono coordinated ‘ the right to be born and the duty to  accept’, this discussion had the precious contribution of Doctor Corrado Mammi, assistant at the Medical Genetis Department of the Riuniti Hospital in Reggio Calabria. Giampiero Griffo and the Lawyer Giuseppe  Chiofalo, head of the FACITE  Foundation,  tried to stimulate answers to the question : who decides for people with a serious psychologial disability..

   The second morning , Mr Edoardo Lamberti Castronuovo, led the round table discussion, in which thel speakers from the different workshop reported on each group work and on  the participation of the observers.

   Prof. Giovanni Incorvati,  previously quoted  , concluded the seminar  admiring the organisation and the contents that came forward in the course of the seminar, he suggested  to institutionalise and put forward the reflections and discussions on Bioethics every year in our city.





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