The German CI Case — a Disturbing Development in an Old Struggle

After watching “Accused” show on January 24, 2023 and its show’s director, Marlee Matlin makes a powerful and transformative approach to challenge the deficit thinking of the CI [cochlear implants] industries, the show’s main objective story was about Ava, a Deaf surrogate mother (the actress is Deaf herself, and her name is Stephanie Nogueras) who took the risk to kidnap the Deaf baby, to prevent her parents to implant the Deaf baby for the best “option” — a problematic.

There were also an actress and an actor, Lauren Ridloff as Ava’s Deaf lawyer and actor, Joshua Castille as Ava’s Deaf partner, and the rest of the story is very powerful.

DEAF LIFE, January 2018:

“Karin Kestner, who runs a German Sign Language (Deutsche Gebardensrache) publishing company, recently reported that the parents of a 2-year-old Deaf child are allegedly being taken to court over their decision not to give the child cochlear implants.

Dr. Andreas Gerstner, chief ENT physician at Braunschweig city hospital, reported the parents to the Youth Welfare Office after they refused bilateral implantation for their child. The Youth Welfare Office referred the case to the Lower Saxony Family Court, and the case had its first hearing on November 20.”

[This is a landmark case]. for a judge will have to decide indirectly for the first time in Germany about the fate of about 1000 newborn deaf children each year and create a precedent. [If this child receives CIs, this case may become an expected standard for all future cases.] As the ENT claims, “The corresponding legal requirements, which apply to us as well as to everyone else in this position, provide for these patients to particular, that in cases in which medical treatment has a serious impact on the patient’s lifestyle, neither the practitioner nor the caregivers alone can make a decision, but a competent external expert can be called.”

Who are the external experts? [The great question is whether] the parents, Deaf or hearing, alone may decide on the lifestyle of their children. An ENT professor thinks that Deaf culture and the sign-language community can be called into question. What is meant is that the Deaf are handicapped, do not conform to the general norm, their lifestyle deviates from the normal, the Deaf children’s chances are not equal to those of the hearing children, so it is a danger to the child’s welfare if the children are not implanted.

A discussion about the success or failure of an implantation is no longer being conducted here. It is simply assumes that any solution offering some hearing is better than being Deaf! Everything is meant to be — implanted as a main purpose, hear sounds, hear and possibly understand speech. Because that’s the spectrum of results of a CI implanttion.

This is no longer about a single child! It’s about the Deaf community (Gehorlosengemeinschaft) and the sign language (DGS)!”

There’s a lot of buzz about a current legal case in Germany where the court is still undecided on whether a doctor holds the power to make the decision to implant a Deaf child over the parents’ objections.

I see a global economic and political competition as powerfully reshaping medical curricula — forcing cochlear implants on Deaf babies as a focus of “feel-good” stories. Deaf babies are seen as a “hot” global commodity — a ready-made population for the marketing of CIs. And believe me, this is a very big business.

In countries around the world, the pace of politically-motivated marketing has steadily accelerated since the start of the 21st century, with the CI and Oralism industries spreading deception, false information, and anti-Deaf propaganda, recruiting desperate parents, stigmatizing Deaf people by design — all intended to prepare them for their “place” in the Hearing social order to exclude people from society altogether.

The CI/Oralism industry is a wealthy, unethical consortium of corporations and schools allied with the medical profession. It is attempting to dominate the Deaf community. It will do anything to increase its power and influence, marketing CIs aggressively in developing countries, ignoring objections, and rendering the Deaf community silent.

If the court rules in favor of Dr. Gerstner, what a windfall for the CI/Oralism industry! The magic ticket, handed down by the legal system, to get rid of sign language in favor of the so-called Listening and Spoken Language! AGBell, internationally, must be drooling at the prospect.

Since when have doctors been the authorities on the perceptions of Deaf children, especially when they know nothing about being Deaf? And what happened to the part of the Hippocratic Oath in which the doctor views to respect patients’ rights?

Giving Dr. Gerstner the right to override parents’ objections to CIs reveals the medical sector’s disregard of Deaf people. Doctors are supposed to respect the needs of their patients, which includes parents’ legitimate objections to an unnecessary and undesirable mode of treatment.

Whatever happened to the parental rights protecting Deaf children? If the parents opted to install a CI in their child, the Oralist/CI lobby would proclaim their right to “parental choice,” the freedom to implant. Why doesn’t the opposite — the right not to implant — apply?

We recognize that the medial profession in general has a poor track record when it comes to respecting Deaf people. We also recognize the stigma experienced by parents of Deaf children who refuse the CI option. No parents should have to deal with this. Nobody should be pressured into getting CIs. Ever.

Could this German case open the door for doctors to forbid the use of the term “Deaf” around the world? What do we then account for? “Hearing-defective” patients?

The U.S. approved the implanting of children of 12 months and up in 2000. In Europe, the age is much lower. According to the NIDCD/NIH, as of December 2012, around 324,000 CIs had been implanted worldwide; in the U.S.; 58,000 adults and 38,000 children had received CIs.

During the legislative hearings on Florida’s SB 1240 in March 2013, a representative of the Oberkotter Foundation said that they had one goal: the cochlear implantation of every Deaf child. That they haven’t been able to achieve that goal (although they do boast that 95% of all parents of newly-identified Deaf children choose LSL) owes something to the vigorous efforts of the Deaf community to educate parents.

Millions of Deaf people are being targeted by the CI industry. We have the power to stop this corrupt use of power in the name of the truth.

Parents (I don’t mean the ones gloatingly profiled in AGBell media, the ones spotlighted in mass media) have come to advocate for the needs of Deaf children from different backgrounds and with a range of abilities.

Can we understand that the parents of this threatened Deaf German child, seeking to protect his or her right to grow up Deaf, have the right to object to an unwanted procedure? There is no problem of fear and shame here. In deciding the best path for their child to take, the Deaf child’s journey as being Deaf, the parents chose the path of love and acceptance.

That these parents chose not to implant their own Deaf child shows the efforts to stand strong, overcome the culture of fear, and disregard the supposed higher wisdom of the medical establishment. That they have encountered opposition from the doctor and CI/Oralism industry shows us how powerful these industries have grown — to the point where a parent no longer has the right to choose. If Dr. Gerstner wins, a doctor can override parental veto; the courts override the parents’ right to veto CIs. The ramifications of this are terrifying.

No doctor should try to force political correctness when the parents disagree with the prescription, to treat them as ignorant and politically incorrect, completely disregarding their motives, ethics, and the Deaf community’s values.

The medical profession faces an educational challenge — to hold to an outdated eugenic model that degrades Deaf people, or to achieve more and better awareness more and better awareness in rejecting bias against the Deaf community, to unpack their hearing privileges and ignorance.

But we have to ask: how would the doctors recognize their own phono-centric bias? Is there any kind of strict bias policing when it comes to earning a medical degree? Is bias acceptable in the medical sector? How can we combat it?

The struggle, which is an old one, continues on various fronts. Deaf children must not be allowed to be. vanquished by the arrogance of the medical profession.

Isn’t it time to see the stars falling down from the sky?

— Jason “JT” Tozier

YouTube: New Season Series, “Accused”: Marlee Matlin is the Fear-Fighter



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