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Introduction to Eugenics – Genetics Generation

Introduction to Eugenics

Eugenics is a movement that is aimed at improving the genetic composition of the human race. Historically, eugenicists advocated selective breeding to achieve these goals. Today we have technologies that make it possible to more directly alter the genetic composition of an individual. However, people differ in their views on how to best (and ethically) use this technology.

History of Eugenics

Logo of the Second International Congress of Eugenics, 1921. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In 1883, Sir Francis Galton, a respected British scholar and cousin of Charles Darwin,first used the term eugenics, meaning well-born. Galton believed that the human race could help direct its future by selectively breeding individuals who have desired traits. This idea was based on Galtons study of upper class Britain. Following these studies, Galton concluded that an elite position in society was due to a good genetic makeup. While Galtons plans to improve the human race through selective breeding never came to fruition in Britain, they eventually took sinister turns in other countries.

The eugenics movement began in the U.S. in the late 19th century. However, unlike in Britain, eugenicists in the U.S. focused on efforts to stop the transmission of negative or undesirable traits from generation to generation. In response to these ideas, some US leaders, private citizens, and corporations started funding eugenical studies. This lead to the 1911 establishment of The Eugenics Records Office (ERO) in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. The ERO spent time tracking family histories and concluded that people deemed to be unfit more often came from families that were poor, low in social standing, immigrant, and/or minority. Further, ERO researchers demonstrated that the undesirable traits in these families, such as pauperism, were due to genetics, and not lack of resources.

Committees were convened to offer solutions to the problem of the growing number of undesirables in the U.S. population. Stricter immigration rules were enacted, but the most ominous resolution was a plan to sterilize unfit individuals to prevent them from passing on their negative traits. During the 20th century, a total of 33 states had sterilization programs in place. While at first sterilization efforts targeted mentally ill people exclusively, later the traits deemed serious enough to warrant sterilization included alcoholism, criminality chronic poverty, blindness, deafness, feeble-mindedness, and promiscuity. It was also not uncommon for African American women to be sterilized during other medical procedures without consent. Most people subjected to these sterilizations had no choice, and because the program was run by the government, they had little chance of escaping the procedure. It is thought that around 65,000 Americans were sterilized during this time period.

The eugenics movement in the U.S. slowly lost favor over time and was waning by the start of World War II. When the horrors of Nazi Germany became apparent, as well as Hitlers use of eugenic principles to justify the atrocities, eugenics lost all credibility as a field of study or even an ideal that should be pursued.

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Introduction to Eugenics – Genetics Generation

Eugenics – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eugenics is a social and political philosophy. It tries to influence the way people choose to mate and raise children, with the aim of improving the human species.

Eugenics rests on some basic ideas. The first is that, in genetics, what is true of animals is also true of man. The characteristics of animals are passed on from one generation to the next in heredity, including mental characteristics. For example, the behaviour and mental characteristics of different breeds of dog differ, and all modern breeds are greatly changed from wolves.[1] The breeding and genetics of farm animals show that if the parents of the next generation are chosen, then that affects what offspring are born.

Negative eugenics aims to cut out traits that lead to suffering, by limiting people with the traits from reproducing. Positive eugenics aims to produce more healthy and intelligent humans, by persuading people with those traits to have more children.[2]p85 In the past, many ways were proposed for doing this, and even today eugenics means different things to different people. The idea of eugenics is controversial, because in the past it was sometimes used to justify discrimination and injustice against people who were thought to be genetically unhealthy or inferior.

Contents

Modern eugenics was first invented in 1865 by Sir Francis Galton, a British scientist who was the cousin of Charles Darwin.[3] Galton believed that intelligence and talent were hereditary and were passed from parent to their children. Based on this, he thought that people could be bred to be smarter, just like animals were bred to be larger or smaller. Galton thought the best way to do this was to learn more about heredity, and also to tell people that they should only marry people who were smart and strong. Galton chose the name “Eugenics” because it was very similar to the Greek for “well born”.

Galton developed the idea of eugenics throughout his life. He understood the two types of eugenics, positive and negative eugenics. One problem, which critics brought up, is the difficulty of agreeing on who is a healthy person, genetically speaking, and who is an inferior person. Obviously, opinions differ.

The rediscovery of the scientific work of Gregor Mendel in 1900 led to modern genetics, and an understanding of how heredity worked. Mendel himself experimented on peas, and found that many characteristics of the pea plants, such as their colour or their height, could be turned on and off through heredity like a switch. For example, his peas could be either yellow or green, one or the other.

When applied to humans, people thought this meant that human characteristics, like being smart or not, could be influenced by heredity.

Another line of thought goes like this. During their evolution, humans were subject to natural selection like any other form of life. On average, healthy and intelligent people had a better chance of reproducing. In modern civilisation, however, it often seems that this process does not apply. Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin had discussed this very point, with concern.[2]p70 In countries where statistics were collected, those statistics showed that in many cases the poor had more children than the rich. Also, statistics showed that the total population of some great nations was declining.[2]p73 One startling piece of information was produced by research directed by Karl Pearson, the Galton Professor of Eugenics at University College London, and the founder of the Department of Applied Statistics. The finding was that half of each succeeding generation was produced by no more than a quarter of the previous generation, and that quarter was “disproportionately located amongst the dregs of society”.[2]p74

The evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley was also a supporter of eugenics. He used this argument several times:

The American historian of science Garland Allen commented:”The agricultural analogy appears over and over again as it did in the writings of many American eugenicists”.[4]

Similarly, the American geneticist Charles Davenport was a lifelong promoter of eugenics, and wrote one of its first textbooks.[2][5][6]Chapter 3 There is no doubt of the support given to eugenics by professional scientists of undoubted repute.

In the United States, eugenics became a very popular idea in the early 20th century. People thought it would cure society of all of its problems at the time, like crime and poverty, because they thought that all aspects of human behavior were probably hereditary. Very important scientists and politicians supported eugenics, and most thought it was a very progressive and scientific philosophy.

But some of those who led the eugenics movement used it to justify racism and prejudice. They used eugenics as an excuse to pass laws which to restrict immigration from countries that they did not like, saying that the people in them were genetically “unfit”. They also passed laws which said that people of different races could not get married to one another. Most importantly, they passed laws which said that people who were thought to have mental illness or mental disability could be sterilised against their will. Under these laws over 60,000 people were sterilised in the United States between 1907 and the 1970s.

Today we know that interpreting statistics of this type is a complex business, and that many of the studies published early in the 20th century have serious flaws. Nevertheless, what stopped the eugenics movement was not better science. It was the realization, after World War II, of the effects of Nazi policies on race in Germany and other countries occupied during the war.[7] Such war crimes were not, of course, advocated by any eugenicist. All the same, there was a common theme. This theme was the growing interest in the rights of individuals as against the rights of the state.

With the end of the Second World War, forced sterilisation ended in Germany. It was continued in the United States until 1974. The main targets were at first those that were ill or that had some physical or mental disabilities.

Only in 1985 was a law of the Swiss canton of Vaud abolished. This law allowed for the forced sterilisation of a certain group of people. It was replaced by a law on the national level, that tells under which circumstances people who are unable to consent, may be sterilised.

Though there are few people who openly advocate eugenics today, many people wonder what improvements in genetic technologies will mean in the future.

Genetic counselling exists, where parents can get information about their heredity and even prevent the birth of a child if it has a risk of hereditary illness. Some people do not think the issue is so clear, though, and wonder if genetic screening, genetic counselling, and birth control, are all just another type of eugenics. Some people wonder if it is bad because it infringes human dignity. Some people oppose eugenics and genetic counselling for religious reasons. The idea of eugenics is controversial today for these reasons.

Much of this concern is misplaced. Genetic counselling is not going to change the genetic composition of the human population to any noticeable extent. More relevant is the developing power to identify, and then to change directly, elements of the human genome (genetic engineering). This does have the potential to change the genetic structure of human populations.

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Eugenics – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eugenics – New World Encyclopedia

Eugenics is a social philosophy which advocates the improvement of human hereditary traits through various forms of intervention. The purported goals have variously been to create healthier, more intelligent people, save society’s resources, and lessen human suffering.

Earlier proposed means of achieving these goals focused on selective breeding, while modern ones focus on prenatal testing and screening, genetic counseling, birth control, in vitro fertilization, and genetic engineering. Opponents argue that eugenics is immoral and is based on, or is itself, pseudoscience. Historically, eugenics has been used as a justification for coercive state-sponsored discrimination and human rights violations, such as forced sterilization of persons with genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, in some cases, genocide of races perceived as inferior. Today, however, the ideas developed from eugenics are used to identify genetic disorders that are either fatal or result in severe disabilities. While there is still controversy, some of this research and understanding may prove beneficial.

The word eugenics etymologically derives from the Greek words eu (good) and gen (birth), and was coined by Francis Galton in 1883.

The term eugenics is often used to refer to movements and social policies that were influential during the early twentieth century. In a historical and broader sense, eugenics can also be a study of “improving human genetic qualities.” It is sometimes broadly applied to describe any human action whose goal is to improve the gene pool. Some forms of infanticide in ancient societies, present-day reprogenetics, preemptive abortions, and designer babies have been (sometimes controversially) referred to as eugenic.

Eugenicists advocate specific policies that (if successful) would lead to a perceived improvement of the human gene pool. Since defining what improvements are desired or beneficial is, by many, perceived as a cultural choice rather than a matter that can be determined objectively (by empirical, scientific inquiry), eugenics has often been deemed a pseudoscience. The most disputed aspect of eugenics has been the definition of “improvement” of the human gene pool, such as what comprises a beneficial characteristic and what makes a defect. This aspect of eugenics has historically been tainted with scientific racism.

Early eugenicists were mostly concerned with perceived intelligence factors that often correlated strongly with social class. Many eugenicists took inspiration from the selective breeding of animals (where purebreds are valued) as their analogy for improving human society. The mixing of races (or miscegenation) was usually considered as something to be avoided in the name of racial purity. At the time this concept appeared to have some scientific support, and it remained a contentious issue until the advanced development of genetics led to a scientific consensus that the division of the human species into unequal races is unjustifiable. Some see this as an ideological consensus, since equality, just like inequality, is a cultural choice rather than a matter that can be determined objectively.

Eugenics has also been concerned with the elimination of hereditary diseases such as haemophilia and Huntington’s disease. However, there are several problems with labeling certain factors as “genetic defects.” In many cases there is no scientific consensus on what a “genetic defect” is. It is often argued that this is more a matter of social or individual choice. What appears to be a “genetic defect” in one context or environment may not be so in another. This can be the case for genes with a heterozygote advantage, such as sickle cell anemia or Tay-Sachs disease, which in their heterozygote form may offer an advantage against, respectively, malaria and tuberculosis. Many people can succeed in life with disabilities. Many of the conditions early eugenicists identified as inheritable (pellagra is one such example) are currently considered to be at least partially, if not wholly, attributed to environmental conditions. Similar concerns have been raised when a prenatal diagnosis of a congenital disorder leads to abortion.

Eugenic policies have been conceptually divided into two categories: Positive eugenics, which encourage a designated “most fit” to reproduce more often; and negative eugenics, which discourage or prevent a designated “less fit” from reproducing. Negative eugenics need not be coercive. A state might offer financial rewards to certain people who submit to sterilization, although some critics might reply that this incentive along with social pressure could be perceived as coercion. Positive eugenics can also be coercive. Abortion by “fit” women was illegal in Nazi Germany.

During the twentieth century, many countries enacted various eugenics policies and programs, including:

Most of these policies were later regarded as coercive, restrictive, or genocidal, and now few jurisdictions implement policies that are explicitly labeled as eugenic or unequivocally eugenic in substance (however labeled). However, some private organizations assist people in genetic counseling, and reprogenetics may be considered as a form of non-state-enforced “liberal” eugenics.

Selective breeding was suggested at least as far back as Plato, who believed human reproduction should be controlled by government. He recorded these ideals in The Republic: “The best men must have intercourse with the best women as frequently as possible, and the opposite is true of the very inferior.” Plato proposed that the process be concealed from the public via a form of lottery. Other ancient examples include the polis of Sparta’s purported practice of infanticide. However, they would leave all babies outside for a length of time, and the survivors were considered stronger, while many “weaker” babies perished.[1]

During the 1860s and 1870s, Sir Francis Galton systematized his ideas and practices according to new knowledge about the evolution of humans and animals provided by the theory of his cousin Charles Darwin. After reading Darwin’s Origin of Species, Galton noticed an interpretation of Darwin’s work whereby the mechanisms of natural selection were potentially thwarted by human civilization. He reasoned that, since many human societies sought to protect the underprivileged and weak, those societies were at odds with the natural selection responsible for extinction of the weakest. Only by changing these social policies, Galton thought, could society be saved from a “reversion towards mediocrity,” a phrase that he first coined in statistics and which later changed to the now common “regression towards the mean.”[2]

According to Galton, society already encouraged dysgenic conditions, claiming that the less intelligent were out-reproducing the more intelligent. Galton did not propose any selection methods; rather, he hoped that a solution would be found if social mores changed in a way that encouraged people to see the importance of breeding.

Galton first used the word eugenic in his 1883 Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development, a book in which he meant “to touch on various topics more or less connected with that of the cultivation of race, or, as we might call it, with ‘eugenic’ questions.” He included a footnote to the word “eugenic” which read:

That is, with questions bearing on what is termed in Greek, eugenes namely, good in stock, hereditarily endowed with noble qualities. This, and the allied words, eugeneia, etc., are equally applicable to men, brutes, and plants. We greatly want a brief word to express the science of improving stock, which is by no means confined to questions of judicious mating, but which, especially in the case of man, takes cognisance of all influences that tend in however remote a degree to give to the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable than they otherwise would have had. The word eugenics would sufficiently express the idea; it is at least a neater word and a more generalized one than viriculture which I once ventured to use.[3]

Eugenics differed from what would later be known as Social Darwinism. This school of thought was developed independently of Darwin by such writers as Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner. Social Darwinism includes a range of political ideologies which are held to be compatible with the concept that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution of biological traits in a population by natural selection can also be applied to competition between human societies or groups within a society. It is based on ideas of the “survival of the fittest” (a term coined by Herbert Spencer) to human society, saying that those humans with superior genes would be better placed to succeed in society, as evidenced by wealth and status. Social Darwinism, like eugenics, fell out of favor as it become increasingly associated with racism. While both claimed intelligence was hereditary, eugenics asserted that new policies were needed to actively change the status quo towards a more “eugenic” state, while the Social Darwinists argued society itself would naturally “check” the problem of “dysgenics” if no welfare policies were in place (for example, the poor might reproduce more but would have higher mortality rates).

The United States was home to a large eugenics movement in the 1890s. Beginning with Connecticut, in 1896, many states enacted marriage laws with eugenic criteria, prohibiting anyone who was “epileptic, imbecile, or feeble-minded” from marrying. In 1898, Charles B. Davenport, a prominent American biologist, began as director of a biological research station based in Cold Spring Harbor, where he experimented with evolution in plants and animals. In 1904, Davenport received funds from the Carnegie Institution to found the Station for Experimental Evolution. The Eugenics Record Office opened in 1910, while Davenport and Harry H. Laughlin began to promote eugenics.[4]

Though eugenics is today often associated with racism, it was not always so; both W.E.B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey supported eugenics or ideas resembling eugenics as a way to reduce African American suffering and improve their stature.[5] Many legal methods of eugenics include state laws against miscegenation or prohibitions of interracial marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned those state laws in 1967, and declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional.

During the twentieth century, researchers became interested in the idea that mental illness could run in families and conducted a number of studies to document the heritability of such illnesses as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and clinical depression. Their findings were used by the eugenics movement as proof for its cause. State laws were written in the late 1800s and early 1900s to prohibit marriage and force sterilization of the mentally ill in order to prevent the “passing on” of mental illness to the next generation. These laws were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1927, and were not abolished until the mid-twentieth century. By 1945, over 45,000 mentally ill individuals in the United States had been forcibly sterilized.

With the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, eugenicists for the first time played a central role in the Congressional debate as expert advisers on the threat of “inferior stock” from eastern and southern Europe. This reduced the number of immigrants from abroad to 15 percent of previous years, to control the number of “unfit” individuals entering the country. The new act strengthened existing laws prohibiting race mixing in an attempt to maintain the gene pool.[6] Eugenic considerations also lay behind the adoption of incest laws in much of the U.S. and were used to justify many antimiscegenation laws.[7]

Some states sterilized “imbeciles” for much of the twentieth century. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1927 Buck v. Bell case that the state of Virginia could sterilize those it thought unfit. The most significant era of eugenic sterilization was between 1907 and 1963, when over 64,000 individuals were forcibly sterilized under eugenic legislation in the United States.[8] A favorable report on the results of sterilization in California, by far the state with the most sterilizations, was published in book form by the biologist Paul Popenoe and was widely cited by the Nazi government as evidence that wide-reaching sterilization programs were feasible and humane. When Nazi administrators went on trial for war crimes in Nuremberg after World War II, they justified the mass sterilizations (over 450,000 in less than a decade) by citing the United States as their inspiration.[9]

Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler was infamous for eugenics programs which attempted to maintain a “pure” German race through a series of programs that ran under the banner of “racial hygiene.” Among other activities, the Nazis performed extensive experimentation on live human beings to test their genetic theories, ranging from simple measurement of physical characteristics to the horrific experiments carried out by Josef Mengele for Otmar von Verschuer on twins in the concentration camps. During the 1930s and 1940s, the Nazi regime forcibly sterilized hundreds of thousands of people whom they viewed as mentally and physically “unfit,” an estimated 400,000 between 1934 and 1937. The scale of the Nazi program prompted American eugenics advocates to seek an expansion of their program, with one complaining that “the Germans are beating us at our own game.”[10] The Nazis went further, however, killing tens of thousands of the institutionalized disabled through compulsory “euthanasia” programs.[11]

They also implemented a number of “positive” eugenics policies, giving awards to “Aryan” women who had large numbers of children and encouraged a service in which “racially pure” single women were impregnated by SS officers (Lebensborn). Many of their concerns for eugenics and racial hygiene were also explicitly present in their systematic killing of millions of “undesirable” people including Jews, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals during the Holocaust (much of the killing equipment and methods employed in the death camps were first developed in the euthanasia program). The scope and coercion involved in the German eugenics programs along with a strong use of the rhetoric of eugenics and so-called “racial science” throughout the regime created an indelible cultural association between eugenics and the Third Reich in the postwar years.[12]

After the experience of Nazi Germany, many ideas about “racial hygiene” and “unfit” members of society were publicly renounced by politicians and members of the scientific community. The Nuremberg Trials against former Nazi leaders revealed to the world many of the regime’s genocidal practices and resulted in formalized policies of medical ethics and the 1950 UNESCO statement on race. Many scientific societies released their own similar “race statements” over the years, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, developed in response to abuses during the Second World War, was adopted by the United Nations in 1948, and affirmed, “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.”[13] In continuation, the 1978 UNESCO declaration on race and racial prejudice states that the fundamental equality of all human beings is the ideal toward which ethics and science should converge.[14]

In reaction to Nazi abuses, eugenics became almost universally reviled in many of the nations where it had once been popular (however, some eugenics programs, including sterilization, continued quietly for decades). Many pre-war eugenicists engaged in what they later labeled “crypto-eugenics,” purposefully taking their eugenic beliefs “underground” and becoming respected anthropologists, biologists, and geneticists in the postwar world (including Robert Yerkes in the U.S. and Otmar von Verschuer in Germany). Californian eugenicist Paul Popenoe founded marriage counseling during the 1950s, a career change which grew from his eugenic interests in promoting “healthy marriages” between “fit” couples.[15]

High school and college textbooks from the 1920s through the 1940s often had chapters touting the scientific progress to be had from applying eugenic principles to the population. Many early scientific journals devoted to heredity in general were run by eugenicists and featured eugenics articles alongside studies of heredity in nonhuman organisms. After eugenics fell out of scientific favor, most references to eugenics were removed from textbooks and subsequent editions of relevant journals. Even the names of some journals changed to reflect new attitudes. For example, Eugenics Quarterly became Social Biology in 1969 (the journal still exists today, though it looks little like its predecessor). Notable members of the American Eugenics Society (192294) during the second half of the twentieth century included Joseph Fletcher, originator of Situational ethics; Dr. Clarence Gamble of the Procter & Gamble fortune; and Garrett Hardin, a population control advocate and author of The Tragedy of the Commons.

Despite the changed postwar attitude towards eugenics in the U.S. and some European countries, a few nations, notably, Canada and Sweden, maintained large-scale eugenics programs, including forced sterilization of mentally handicapped individuals, as well as other practices, until the 1970s. In the United States, sterilizations capped off in the 1960s, though the eugenics movement had largely lost most popular and political support by the end of the 1930s.[16]

Despite the ill repute of eugenics, there still exists a debate regarding its use or abuse.

While the science of genetics has increasingly provided means by which certain characteristics and conditions can be identified and understood, given the complexity of human genetics, culture, and psychology, there is at this point no agreed objective means of determining which traits might be ultimately desirable or undesirable. Eugenic manipulations that reduce the propensity for criminality and violence, for example, might result in the population being enslaved by an outside aggressor it can no longer defend itself against. On the other hand, genetic diseases like hemochromatosis can increase susceptibility to illness, cause physical deformities, and other dysfunctions. Eugenic measures against many of these diseases are already being undertaken in societies around the world, while measures against traits that affect more subtle, poorly understood traits, such as criminality, are relegated to the realm of speculation and science fiction. The effects of diseases are essentially wholly negative, and societies everywhere seek to reduce their impact by various means, some of which are eugenic in all but name.

In modern bioethics literature, the history of eugenics presents many moral and ethical questions. Commentators have suggested the new “eugenics” will come from reproductive technologies that will allow parents to create so-called “designer babies” (what the biologist Lee M. Silver prominently called “reprogenetics”). It has been argued that this “non-coercive” form of biological “improvement” will be predominantly motivated by individual competitiveness and the desire to create “the best opportunities” for children, rather than an urge to improve the species as a whole, which characterized the early twentieth century forms of eugenics. Because of this non-coercive nature, lack of involvement by the state, and a difference in goals, some commentators have questioned whether such activities are eugenics or something else altogether.

Some disability activists argue that, although their impairments may cause them pain or discomfort, what really disables them as members of society is a sociocultural system that does not recognize their right to genuinely equal treatment. They express skepticism that any form of eugenics could be to the benefit of the disabled considering their treatment by historical eugenic campaigns.

James D. Watson, the first director of the Human Genome Project, initiated the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications Program (ELSI) which has funded a number of studies into the implications of human genetic engineering (along with a prominent website on the history of eugenics), because:

In putting ethics so soon into the genome agenda, I was responding to my own personal fear that all too soon critics of the Genome Project would point out that I was a representative of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory that once housed the controversial Eugenics Record Office. My not forming a genome ethics program quickly might be falsely used as evidence that I was a closet eugenicist, having as my real long-term purpose the unambiguous identification of genes that lead to social and occupational stratification as well as genes justifying racial discrimination.[17]

Distinguished geneticists including Nobel Prize-winners John Sulston (“I don’t think one ought to bring a clearly disabled child into the world”)[18] and Watson (“Once you have a way in which you can improve our children, no one can stop it”)[19] support genetic screening. Which ideas should be described as “eugenic” are still controversial in both public and scholarly spheres. Some observers such as Philip Kitcher have described the use of genetic screening by parents as making possible a form of “voluntary” eugenics.[20]

Some modern subcultures advocate different forms of eugenics assisted by human cloning and human genetic engineering, sometimes even as part of a new cult (see Ralism, Cosmotheism, or Prometheism). These groups also talk of “neo-eugenics.” “conscious evolution,” or “genetic freedom.”

Behavioral traits often identified as potential targets for modification through human genetic engineering include intelligence, clinical depression, schizophrenia, alcoholism, sexual behavior (and orientation), and criminality.

In a 2005 United Kingdom court case, the Crown v. James Edward Whittaker-Williams, arguably set a precedent of banning sexual contact between people with “learning difficulties.” The accused, a man suffering learning disabilities, was jailed for kissing and hugging a woman with learning disabilities. This was done under the 2003 Sexual Offences Act, which redefines kissing and cuddling as sexual and states that those with learning difficulties are unable to give consent regardless of whether or not the act involved coercion. Opponents of the act have attacked it as bringing in eugenics through the backdoor under the guise of a requirement of “consent.”[21]

A common criticism of eugenics is that it inevitably leads to measures that are unethical. In the hypothetical scenario where it’s scientifically proven that one racial minority group making up 5 percent of the population is on average less intelligent than the majority racial group it’s more likely that the minority racial group will be submitted to a eugenics program, opposed to the five percent least intelligent members of the population as a whole. For example, Nazi Germany’s eugenic program within the German population resulted in protests and unrest, while the persecution of the Jews was met with silence.

Steven Pinker has stated that it is “a conventional wisdom among left-leaning academics that genes imply genocide.” He has responded to this “conventional wisdom” by comparing the history of Marxism, which had the opposite position on genes to that of Nazism:

But the twentieth century suffered “two” ideologies that led to genocides. The other one, Marxism, had no use for race, didn’t believe in genes and denied that human nature was a meaningful concept. Clearly, it’s not an emphasis on genes or evolution that is dangerous. It’s the desire to remake humanity by coercive means (eugenics or social engineering) and the belief that humanity advances through a struggle in which superior groups (race or classes) triumph over inferior ones.[22]

Richard Lynn has argued that any social philosophy is capable of ethical misuse. Though Christian principles have aided in the abolition of slavery and the establishment of welfare programs, he notes that the Christian church has also burned many dissidents at the stake and waged wars against nonbelievers in which Christian crusaders slaughtered large numbers of women and children. Lynn argued the appropriate response is to condemn these killings, but believing that Christianity “inevitably leads to the extermination of those who do not accept its doctrines” is unwarranted.[23]

Eugenic policies could also lead to loss of genetic diversity, in which case a culturally accepted improvement of the gene pool may, but would not necessarily, result in biological disaster due to increased vulnerability to disease, reduced ability to adapt to environmental change and other factors both known and unknown. This kind of argument from the precautionary principle is itself widely criticized. A long-term eugenics plan is likely to lead to a scenario similar to this because the elimination of traits deemed undesirable would reduce genetic diversity by definition.

Related to a decrease in diversity is the danger of non-recognition. That is, if everyone were beautiful and attractive, then it would be more difficult to distinguish between different individuals, due to the wide variety of ugly traits and otherwise non-attractive traits and combinations thereof that people use to recognize each other.

The possible elimination of the autism genotype is a significant political issue in the autism rights movement, which claims autism is a form of neurodiversity. Many advocates of Down Syndrome rights also consider Down Syndrome (Trisomy-21) a form of neurodiversity, though males with Down Syndrome are generally infertile.

In some instances, efforts to eradicate certain single-gene mutations would be nearly impossible. In the event the condition in question was a heterozygous recessive trait, the problem is that by eliminating the visible unwanted trait, there are still as many genes for the condition left in the gene pool as were eliminated according to the Hardy-Weinberg principle, which states that a population’s genetics are defined as pp+2pq+qq at equilibrium. With genetic testing it may be possible to detect all of the heterozygous recessive traits, but only at great cost with the current technology. Under normal circumstances it is only possible to eliminate a dominant allele from the gene pool. Recessive traits can be severely reduced, but never eliminated unless the complete genetic makeup of all members of the pool was known, as aforementioned. As only very few undesirable traits, such as Huntington’s disease, are dominant, the practical value for “eliminating” traits is quite low.

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Eugenics – New World Encyclopedia

What is eugenics? pgEd

Eugenics is the philosophy and social movement that argues it is possible to improve the human race and society by encouraging reproduction by people or populations with desirable traits (termed positive eugenics) and discouraging reproduction by people with undesirable qualities (termed negative eugenics). The eugenics movement began in the United States in the early part of the 20th century; the United States was the first country to have a systematic program for performing sterilizations on individuals without their knowledge or against their will. It was supported and encouraged by a wide swath of people, including politicians, scientists, social reformers, prominent business leaders and other influential individuals who shared a goal of reducing the burden on society. The majority of people targeted for sterilization were deemed of inferior intelligence, particularly poor people and eventually people of color.[1]

In the early 20th century, many scientists were skeptical of the scientific underpinnings of eugenics. Eugenicists argued that parents from good stock produced healthier and intellectually superior children. They believed that traits such as poverty, shiftlessness, criminality and poor work ethic were inherited and that people of Nordic ancestry were inherently superior to other peoples, despite an obvious lack of evidence and scientific proof. However, eugenicists were able to persuade the Carnegie Institution and prestigious universities to support their work, thus legitimizing it and creating the perception that their philosophy was, in fact, science.

The eugenics movement became widely seen as a legitimate way to improve society and was supported by such people as Winston Churchill, Margaret Sanger, Theodore Roosevelt and John Harvey Kellogg. Eugenics became an academic discipline at many prominent colleges, including Harvard University, among many others. From the outset, the movement also had critics, including lawyer and civil rights advocate Clarence Darrow as well as scientists who refuted the idea that purity leads to fewer negative gene mutations. Nevertheless, between 1927 and the 1970s, there were more than 60,000 compulsory sterilizations performed in 33 states in the United States; California led the nation with over 20,000. Experts think many more sterilizations were likely performed, but not officially recorded.[2]

Adolf Hitler based some of his early ideas about eugenics on the programs practiced in the United States. He was its most infamous practitioner; the Nazis killed tens of thousands of disabled people and sterilized hundreds of thousands deemed inferior and medically unfit. After World War II and the Holocaust, the American eugenics movement was widely condemned. However, sterilization programs continued in many states until the mid-1970s.

Today, safeguards have been established to ensure that the ethical implications of new technologies are discussed and debated before being employed on a large scale. In this way, the benefits and advances arising from scientific research and medical procedures can be achieved both ethically and humanely. Examples of the efforts of the United States government to ensure that progress in science, research and technology proceeds in an ethical and socially acceptable manner include the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, well known for the development of the Belmont Report, and the Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI) program housed in the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Many people fear that new advances in genetics could lead to a new era of eugenics. However, these advances lead to sometimes difficult ethical questions, particularly related to reproductive technologies and embryo screening. As science advances, what traits might people be able to choose or select against? Is it acceptable for prospective parents to have a say in which embryos are implanted in a womens uterus for non-medical reasons? Is it acceptable for society to dictate this decision to prospective parents? Many of the breakthroughs have saved lives and will continue to do so on a grander scale, and we, as a society, need to discuss the complex issues related to genetic technologies. Debate and discussion can be illuminating even though complete consensus about the intersection of genetics and society will be difficult.

This lesson provides students with a historical overview of the American eugenics movement and highlights some of the advances and breakthroughs that have been achieved through genetic and genomic research. Many people fear that new advances in genetics, particularly embryo screening and analysis of fetal DNA, could lead to a new era of eugenics. The goal of this lesson is for students to start discussing these topics so that they can understand the complexity of the issues and engage in conversations that contrast the dangers of eugenics with the benefits that can come from genetic information.

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Vermont Eugenics: A Documentary History

This lesson uses primary source documents to explore issues of race, gender and class in the 20th century. It is intended to extend the ideas explored in History, eugenics and genetics. The goal of this lesson is for students to use original sources to understand how the eugenics movement used propaganda to enter mainstream America to promote its agenda, and use critical thinking skills to analyze and interpret the sources.

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What is eugenics? pgEd

Eugenics – definition of eugenics by The Free Dictionary

Why, man, that is a box of books on biology and eugenics.The only vexation he suffered was the death of Nalasu and the disappearance of Jerry–his two experiments in primitive eugenics.This was especially true of the sciences which we know as biology and eugenics.His remarks about the unemployed being “wasters” who should have vasectomies stink of the abhorrent Nazi doctrine of eugenics.Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era, by Thomas C.Compulsory sterilization laws, which were passed in 32 states from 1907 to 1937, and resulted in more than 60,000 reproductive surgeries, overwhelmingly performed on poor, undereducated, and minority women and men, epitomize this egregious facet of eugenics.The Nazi-era Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Human Heredity and Eugenics was also known to have a collection of bones from German colonies, among others.Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie BuckIlliberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics & American Economics in the Progressive EraMears falls for the orphaned daughter of the murdered woman, has a long meeting with Virginia’s lawyer (a former slave), is attacked by the KKK, and discovers first-hand the existence of eugenics sterilization camps.Given the historical relationship between genetic counseling and eugenics movements–as well as the hostility toward black reproduction that characterized reproductive medicine for much of the twentieth century–there is reason to question the quality and nature of the counseling these women will receive.The histories contained in these files were gathered and archived by the now defunct Eugenics Records Office, an American organization that helped to shape the international eugenics movement through activities carried out in these juvenile reformatories (primarily at the Whittier State School, founded in 1891).

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Eugenics – definition of eugenics by The Free Dictionary

Eugenic | Definition of Eugenic by Merriam-Webster

1 : relating to or fitted for the production of good offspring

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1883, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Greek eugens wellborn, from eu- + -gens born more at -gen

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1 : relating to or fitted for the production of good offspring

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Eugenic | Definition of Eugenic by Merriam-Webster

Eugenics in the United States – Wikipedia

Eugenics, the set of beliefs and practices which aims at improving the genetic quality of the human population,[2][3] played a significant role in the history and culture of the United States prior to its involvement in World War II.[4]

Eugenics was practiced in the United States many years before eugenics programs in Nazi Germany,[5] which were largely inspired by the previous American work.[6][7][8] Stefan Khl has documented the consensus between Nazi race policies and those of eugenicists in other countries, including the United States, and points out that eugenicists understood Nazi policies and measures as the realization of their goals and demands.[9]

During the Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th century, eugenics was considered a method of preserving and improving the dominant groups in the population; it is now generally associated with racist and nativist elements, as the movement was to some extent a reaction to a change in emigration from Europe, rather than scientific genetics.[10]

The American eugenics movement was rooted in the biological determinist ideas of Sir Francis Galton, which originated in the 1880s. Galton studied the upper classes of Britain, and arrived at the conclusion that their social positions were due to a superior genetic makeup.[11] Early proponents of eugenics believed that, through selective breeding, the human species should direct its own evolution. They tended to believe in the genetic superiority of Nordic, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon peoples; supported strict immigration and anti-miscegenation laws; and supported the forcible sterilization of the poor, disabled and “immoral”.[12] Eugenics was also supported by African American intellectuals such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Thomas Wyatt Turner, and many academics at Tuskegee University, Howard University, and Hampton University; however, they believed the best blacks were as good as the best whites and “The Talented Tenth” of all races should mix.[13] W. E. B. Du Bois believed “only fit blacks should procreate to eradicate the race’s heritage of moral iniquity.”[13][14]

The American eugenics movement received extensive funding from various corporate foundations including the Carnegie Institution, Rockefeller Foundation, and the Harriman railroad fortune.[7] In 1906 J.H. Kellogg provided funding to help found the Race Betterment Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan.[11] The Eugenics Record Office (ERO) was founded in Cold Spring Harbor, New York in 1911 by the renowned biologist Charles B. Davenport, using money from both the Harriman railroad fortune and the Carnegie Institution. As late as the 1920s, the ERO was one of the leading organizations in the American eugenics movement.[11][15] In years to come, the ERO collected a mass of family pedigrees and concluded that those who were unfit came from economically and socially poor backgrounds. Eugenicists such as Davenport, the psychologist Henry H. Goddard, Harry H. Laughlin, and the conservationist Madison Grant (all well respected in their time) began to lobby for various solutions to the problem of the “unfit”. Davenport favored immigration restriction and sterilization as primary methods; Goddard favored segregation in his The Kallikak Family; Grant favored all of the above and more, even entertaining the idea of extermination.[16] The Eugenics Record Office later became the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Eugenics was widely accepted in the U.S. academic community.[7] By 1928, there were 376 separate university courses in some of the United States’ leading schools, enrolling more than 20,000 students, which included eugenics in the curriculum.[17] It did, however, have scientific detractors (notably, Thomas Hunt Morgan, one of the few Mendelians to explicitly criticize eugenics), though most of these focused more on what they considered the crude methodology of eugenicists, and the characterization of almost every human characteristic as being hereditary, rather than the idea of eugenics itself.[18]

By 1910, there was a large and dynamic network of scientists, reformers, and professionals engaged in national eugenics projects and actively promoting eugenic legislation. The American Breeder’s Association was the first eugenic body in the U.S., established in 1906 under the direction of biologist Charles B. Davenport. The ABA was formed specifically to “investigate and report on heredity in the human race, and emphasize the value of superior blood and the menace to society of inferior blood.” Membership included Alexander Graham Bell, Stanford president David Starr Jordan and Luther Burbank.[19][20] The American Association for the Study and Prevention of Infant Mortality was one of the first organizations to begin investigating infant mortality rates in terms of eugenics.[21] They promoted government intervention in attempts to promote the health of future citizens.[22][verification needed]

Several feminist reformers advocated an agenda of eugenic legal reform. The National Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and the National League of Women Voters were among the variety of state and local feminist organization that at some point lobbied for eugenic reforms.[23]

One of the most prominent feminists to champion the eugenic agenda was Margaret Sanger, the leader of the American birth control movement. Margaret Sanger saw birth control as a means to prevent unwanted children from being born into a disadvantaged life, and incorporated the language of eugenics to advance the movement.[24][25] Sanger also sought to discourage the reproduction of persons who, it was believed, would pass on mental disease or serious physical defects. She advocated sterilization in cases where the subject was unable to use birth control.[24] She rejected euthanasia.[26] For Sanger, it was individual women and not the state who should determine whether or not to have a child.[27][28]

In the Deep South, women’s associations played an important role in rallying support for eugenic legal reform. Eugenicists recognized the political and social influence of southern clubwomen in their communities, and used them to help implement eugenics across the region.[29] Between 1915 and 1920, federated women’s clubs in every state of the Deep South had a critical role in establishing public eugenic institutions that were segregated by sex.[30] For example, the Legislative Committee of the Florida State Federation of Women’s Clubs successfully lobbied to institute a eugenic institution for the mentally retarded that was segregated by sex.[31] Their aim was to separate mentally retarded men and women to prevent them from breeding more “feebleminded” individuals.

Public acceptance in the U.S. was the reason eugenic legislation was passed.Almost 19 million people attended the PanamaPacific International Exposition in San Francisco, open for 10 months from 20 February to 4 December 1915.[32][33] The PPIE was a fair devoted to extolling the virtues of a rapidly progressing nation, featuring new developments in science, agriculture, manufacturing and technology. A subject that received a large amount of time and space was that of the developments concerning health and disease, particularly the areas of tropical medicine and race betterment (tropical medicine being the combined study of bacteriology, parasitology and entomology while racial betterment being the promotion of eugenic studies). Having these areas so closely intertwined, it seemed that they were both categorized in the main theme of the fair, the advancement of civilization. Thus in the public eye, the seemingly contradictory[clarification needed] areas of study were both represented under progressive banners of improvement and were made to seem like plausible courses of action to better American society.[34][35]

Beginning with Connecticut in 1896, many states enacted marriage laws with eugenic criteria, prohibiting anyone who was “epileptic, imbecile or feeble-minded”[36] from marrying.[37]

The first state to introduce a compulsory sterilization bill was Michigan, in 1897 but the proposed law failed to garner enough votes by legislators to be adopted. Eight years later Pennsylvania’s state legislators passed a sterilization bill that was vetoed by the governor. Indiana became the first state to enact sterilization legislation in 1907,[38] followed closely by Washington and California in 1909. Sterilization rates across the country were relatively low (California being the sole exception) until the 1927 Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell which legitimized the forced sterilization of patients at a Virginia home for the mentally retarded. The number of sterilizations performed per year increased until another Supreme Court case, Skinner v. Oklahoma, 1942, complicated the legal situation by ruling against sterilization of criminals if the equal protection clause of the constitution was violated. That is, if sterilization was to be performed, then it could not exempt white-collar criminals.[39] The state of California was at the vanguard of the American eugenics movement, performing about 20,000 sterilizations or one third of the 60,000 nationwide from 1909 up until the 1960s.[40]

While California had the highest number of sterilizations, North Carolina’s eugenics program which operated from 1933 to 1977, was the most aggressive of the 32 states that had eugenics programs.[41] An IQ of 70 or lower meant sterilization was appropriate in North Carolina.[42] The North Carolina Eugenics Board almost always approved proposals brought before them by local welfare boards.[42] Of all states, only North Carolina gave social workers the power to designate people for sterilization.[41] “Here, at last, was a method of preventing unwanted pregnancies by an acceptable, practical, and inexpensive method,” wrote Wallace Kuralt in the March 1967 journal of the N.C. Board of Public Welfare. “The poor readily adopted the new techniques for birth control.”[42]

The Immigration Restriction League was the first American entity associated officially with eugenics. Founded in 1894 by three recent Harvard University graduates, the League sought to bar what it considered inferior races from entering America and diluting what it saw as the superior American racial stock (upper class Northerners of Anglo-Saxon heritage). They felt that social and sexual involvement with these less-evolved and less-civilized races would pose a biological threat to the American population. The League lobbied for a literacy test for immigrants, based on the belief that literacy rates were low among “inferior races”. Literacy test bills were vetoed by Presidents in 1897, 1913 and 1915; eventually, President Wilson’s second veto was overruled by Congress in 1917. Membership in the League included: A. Lawrence Lowell, president of Harvard, William DeWitt Hyde, president of Bowdoin College, James T. Young, director of Wharton School and David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford University.[43]

The League allied themselves with the American Breeder’s Association to gain influence and further its goals and in 1909 established a Committee on Eugenics chaired by David Starr Jordan with members Charles Davenport, Alexander Graham Bell, Vernon Kellogg, Luther Burbank, William Ernest Castle, Adolf Meyer, H. J. Webber and Friedrich Woods. The ABA’s immigration legislation committee, formed in 1911 and headed by League’s founder Prescott F. Hall, formalized the committee’s already strong relationship with the Immigration Restriction League. They also founded the Eugenics Record Office, which was headed by Harry H. Laughlin.[44] In their mission statement, they wrote:

Society must protect itself; as it claims the right to deprive the murderer of his life so it may also annihilate the hideous serpent of hopelessly vicious protoplasm. Here is where appropriate legislation will aid in eugenics and creating a healthier, saner society in the future.[44]

Money from the Harriman railroad fortune was also given to local charities, in order to find immigrants from specific ethnic groups and deport, confine, or forcibly sterilize them.[7]

With the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, eugenicists for the first time played an important role in the Congressional debate as expert advisers on the threat of “inferior stock” from eastern and southern Europe.[45][46] The new act, inspired by the eugenic belief in the racial superiority of “old stock” white Americans as members of the “Nordic race” (a form of white supremacy), strengthened the position of existing laws prohibiting race-mixing.[47] Eugenic considerations also lay behind the adoption of incest laws in much of the U.S. and were used to justify many anti-miscegenation laws.[48]

Stephen Jay Gould asserted that restrictions on immigration passed in the United States during the 1920s (and overhauled in 1965 with the Immigration and Nationality Act) were motivated by the goals of eugenics. During the early 20th century, the United States and Canada began to receive far higher numbers of Southern and Eastern European immigrants. Influential eugenicists like Lothrop Stoddard and Harry Laughlin (who was appointed as an expert witness for the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization in 1920) presented arguments they would pollute the national gene pool if their numbers went unrestricted.[49][50] It has been argued that this stirred both Canada and the United States into passing laws creating a hierarchy of nationalities, rating them from the most desirable Anglo-Saxon and Nordic peoples to the Chinese and Japanese immigrants, who were almost completely banned from entering the country.[47][51]

Both class and race factored into eugenic definitions of “fit” and “unfit.” By using intelligence testing, American eugenicists asserted that social mobility was indicative of one’s genetic fitness.[52] This reaffirmed the existing class and racial hierarchies and explained why the upper-to-middle class was predominantly white. Middle-to-upper class status was a marker of “superior strains.”[31] In contrast, eugenicists believed poverty to be a characteristic of genetic inferiority, which meant that those deemed “unfit” were predominantly of the lower classes.[31]

Because class status designated some more fit than others, eugenicists treated upper and lower class women differently. Positive eugenicists, who promoted procreation among the fittest in society, encouraged middle class women to bear more children. Between 1900 and 1960, Eugenicists appealed to middle class white women to become more “family minded,” and to help better the race.[53] To this end, eugenicists often denied middle and upper class women sterilization and birth control.[54]

Since poverty was associated with prostitution and “mental idiocy,” women of the lower classes were the first to be deemed “unfit” and “promiscuous.”[31]

In 1907, Indiana passed the first eugenics-based compulsory sterilization law in the world. Thirty U.S. states would soon follow their lead.[55][56] Although the law was overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court in 1921,[57] the U.S. Supreme Court, in Buck v. Bell, upheld the constitutionality of the Virginia Sterilization Act of 1924, allowing for the compulsory sterilization of patients of state mental institutions in 1927.[58]

Some states sterilized “imbeciles” for much of the 20th century. Although compulsory sterilization is now considered an abuse of human rights, Buck v. Bell was never overturned, and Virginia did not repeal its sterilization law until 1974.[59] The most significant era of eugenic sterilization was between 1907 and 1963, when over 64,000 individuals were forcibly sterilized under eugenic legislation in the United States.[60] Beginning around 1930, there was a steady increase in the percentage of women sterilized, and in a few states only young women were sterilized. From 1930 to the 1960s, sterilizations were performed on many more institutionalized women than men.[31] By 1961, 61 percent of the 62,162 total eugenic sterilizations in the United States were performed on women.[31] A favorable report on the results of sterilization in California, the state with the most sterilizations by far, was published in book form by the biologist Paul Popenoe and was widely cited by the Nazi government as evidence that wide-reaching sterilization programs were feasible and humane.[61][62]

Men and women were compulsorily sterilized for different reasons. Men were sterilized to treat their aggression and to eliminate their criminal behavior, while women were sterilized to control the results of their sexuality.[31] Since women bore children, eugenicists held women more accountable than men for the reproduction of the less “desirable” members of society.[31] Eugenicists therefore predominantly targeted women in their efforts to regulate the birth rate, to “protect” white racial health, and weed out the “defectives” of society.[31]

A 1937 Fortune magazine poll found that 2/3 of respondents supported eugenic sterilization of “mental defectives”, 63% supported sterilization of criminals, and only 15% opposed both.[63][64]

In the 1970s, several activists and women’s rights groups discovered several physicians to be performing coerced sterilizations of specific ethnic groups of society. All were abuses of poor, nonwhite, or mentally retarded women, while no abuses against white or middle-class women were recorded.[65] Several court cases such as Madrigal v. Quilligan, a class action suit regarding forced or coerced postpartum sterilization of Latina women following cesarean sections, and Relf v. Weinberger,[66] the sterilization of two young black girls by tricking their illiterate mother into signing a waiver, helped bring to light some of the widespread abuses of sterilization supported by federal funds.[67][68]

After World War II, Dr. Clarence Gamble revived the eugenics movement in the United States through sterilization. Dr. Gamble supported the eugenics movement throughout his life. He worked as a researcher at Harvard Medical school and was well off financially, as the Procter and Gamble fortune was inherited by him. Gamble, a proponent of birth control, contributed to the founding of public birth control clinics. These were the first public clinics in the United States. Until the 1960’s and 1970’s, Gamble’s ideal form of eugenics, sterilization, was seen in various cases. Doctors told mothers that their daughters needed shots, but they were actually sterilizing them. Hispanic women were often sterilized due to the fact that they could not read the consent forms that doctors had given them. Poorer white people, African Americans, and Native American people were also targeted for forced sterilization.[69]

The number of eugenic sterilizations is agreed upon by most scholars and journalists. They claim that there were 64,000 cases of eugenic sterilization in the United States, but this number does not take into account the sterilizations that took place after 1963. Around this time was when women from different minority groups were singled out for sterilization. If the sterilizations after 1963 are taken into account, the number of eugenic sterilizations in the United States increases to 80,000. Half of these sterilizations took place after World War II. Sterilization still occurs today, in some states, drug addicts can get paid to be sterilized. Eugenic sterilization programs before World War II were mostly conducted on prisoners, or people in mental hospitals. After the war, eugenic sterilization was aimed more towards poor people and minorities. There were even judges who would force people on parole to be sterilized. People supported this revival of eugenic sterilizations because they thought it would help bring an end to some issues, like poverty and mental illness. Supporters also thought that these programs would save taxpayer money and boost the economy.[70]

In 1972, United States Senate committee testimony brought to light that at least 2,000 involuntary sterilizations had been performed on poor black women without their consent or knowledge.[71] An investigation revealed that the surgeries were all performed in the South, and were all performed on black welfare mothers with multiple children.[71] Testimony revealed that many of these women were threatened with an end to their welfare benefits until they consented to sterilization.[71] These surgeries were instances of sterilization abuse, a term applied to any sterilization performed without the consent or knowledge of the recipient, or in which the recipient is pressured into accepting the surgery. Because the funds used to carry out the surgeries came from the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, the sterilization abuse raised older suspicions, especially amongst the black community, that “federal programs were underwriting eugenicists who wanted to impose their views about population quality on minorities and poor women.”[31]

Native American women were also victims of sterilization abuse up into the 1970s.[72] The organization WARN (Women of All Red Nations) publicized that Native American women were threatened that, if they had more children, they would be denied welfare benefits. The Indian Health Service also repeatedly refused to deliver Native American babies until their mothers, in labor, consented to sterilization. Many Native American women unknowingly gave consent, since directions were not given in their native language. According to the General Accounting Office, an estimate of 3,406 Indian women were sterilized.[72] The General Accounting Office stated that the Indian Health Service had not followed the necessary regulations, and that the “informed consent forms did not adhere to the standards set by the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW).”[73]

In 2013, it was reported that 148 female prisoners in two California prisons were sterilized between 2006 and 2010 in a supposedly voluntary program, but it was determined that the prisoners did not give consent to the procedures.[74] In September 2014, California enacted Bill SB1135 that bans sterilization in correctional facilities, unless the procedure is required to save an inmate’s life.[75]

Edwin Black wrote that one of the methods that was suggested to get rid of “defective germ-plasm in the human population” was euthanasia.[7] A 1911 Carnegie Institute report explored eighteen methods for removing defective genetic attributes, and method number eight was euthanasia.[7] The most commonly suggested method of euthanasia was to set up local gas chambers.[7] However, many in the eugenics movement did not believe that Americans were ready to implement a large-scale euthanasia program, so many doctors had to find clever ways of subtly implementing eugenic euthanasia in various medical institutions.[7] For example, a mental institution in Lincoln, Illinois fed its incoming patients milk infected with tuberculosis (reasoning that genetically fit individuals would be resistant), resulting in 3040% annual death rates.[7] Other doctors practiced euthanasia through various forms of lethal neglect.[7]

In the 1930s, there was a wave of portrayals of eugenic “mercy killings” in American film, newspapers, and magazines. In 1931, the Illinois Homeopathic Medicine Association began lobbying for the right to euthanize “imbeciles” and other defectives.[76] The Euthanasia Society of America was founded in 1938.[77]

Overall, however, euthanasia was marginalized in the U.S., motivating people to turn to forced segregation and sterilization programs as a means for keeping the “unfit” from reproducing.[7]

Mary deGormo, a former teacher, was the first person to combine ideas about health and intelligence standards with competitions at state fairs, in the form of baby contests. She developed the first such contest, the “Scientific Baby Contest” for the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport, in 1908. She saw these contests as a contribution to the “social efficiency” movement, which was advocating for the standardization of all aspects of American life as a means of increasing efficiency.[21] DeGarmo was assisted by Doctor Jacob Bodenheimer, a pediatrician who helped her develop grading sheets for contestants, which combined physical measurements with standardized measurements of intelligence.[78]

The contest spread to other U.S. states in the early twentieth century. In Indiana, for example, Ada Estelle Schweitzer, a eugenics advocate and director of the Indiana State Board of Health’s Division of Child and Infant Hygiene, organized and supervised the state’s Better Baby contests at the Indiana State Fair from 1920 to 1932. It was among the fair’s most popular events. During the contest’s first year at the fair, a total of 78 babies were examined; in 1925 the total reached 885. Contestants peaked at 1,301 infants in 1930, and the following year the number of entrants was capped at 1,200. Although the specific impact of the contests was difficult to assess, statistics helped to support Schweitzer’s claims that the contests helped reduce infant mortality.[79]

The intent of the contest was to educate the public about raising healthier children; however, its exclusionary practices reinforced social class and racial discrimination. In Indiana, for example, the contestants were limited to white infants; African American and immigrant children were barred from the competition for ribbons and cash prizes. In addition, the scoring was biased toward white, middle-class babies.[80][81] The contest procedure included recording each child’s health history, as well as evaluations of each contestant’s physical and mental health and overall development using medical professionals. Using a process similar to the one introduced at the Louisiana State Fair, and contest guidelines that the AMA and U.S. Children’s Bureau recommended, scoring for each contestant began with 1,000 points. Deductions were made for defects, including a child’s measurements below a designated average. The contestant with the most points (and the fewest defections) was declared the winner.[82][83][84]

Standardization through scientific judgment was a topic that was very serious in the eyes of the scientific community, but has often been downplayed as just a popular fad or trend. Nevertheless, a lot of time, effort, and money was put into these contests and their scientific backing, which would influence cultural ideas as well as local and state government practices.[85][86]

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People promoted eugenics by hosting “Better Baby” contests and the proceeds would go to its anti-lynching campaign.[13]

First appearing in 1920 at the Kansas Free Fair, Fitter Family competitions, continued all the way up to World War II. Mary T. Watts and Dr. Florence Brown Sherbon,[87][88] both initiators of the Better Baby Contests in Iowa, took the idea of positive eugenics for babies and combined it with a determinist concept of biology to come up with fitter family competitions.[89]

There were several different categories that families were judged in: Size of the family, overall attractiveness, and health of the family, all of which helped to determine the likelihood of having healthy children. These competitions were simply a continuation of the Better Baby contests that promoted certain physical and mental qualities.[90] At the time, it was believed that certain behavioral qualities were inherited from one’s parents. This led to the addition of several judging categories including: generosity, self-sacrificing, and quality of familial bonds. Additionally, there were negative features that were judged: selfishness, jealousy, suspiciousness, high-temperedness, and cruelty. Feeblemindedness, alcoholism, and paralysis were few among other traits that were included as physical traits to be judged when looking at family lineage.[91]

Doctors and specialists from the community would offer their time to judge these competitions, which were originally sponsored by the Red Cross.[91] The winners of these competitions were given a Bronze Medal as well as champion cups called “Capper Medals.” The cups were named after then Governor and Senator, Arthur Capper and he would present them to “Grade A individuals”.[92]

The perks of entering into the contests were that the competitions provided a way for families to get a free health check up by a doctor as well as some of the pride and prestige that came from winning the competitions.[91]

By 1925 the Eugenics Records Office was distributing standardized forms for judging eugenically fit families, which were used in contests in several U.S. states.[93]

Concerns about eugenics arose in the African American community after the implementation of the Negro Project of 1939, which was proposed by Margaret Sanger who was the founder of Planned Parenthood.[94] In this plan, Sanger offered birth control to Black families in the United States to give them the chance to have a better life than what the group had been experiencing in the United States.[95] She also noted that the project was proposed to empower women. The Project often sought after prominent African American leaders to spread knowledge regarding birth control and the perceived positive effects it would have on the African American community, such as poverty and the lack of education.[96] Because of this, Sanger believed that African American ministers in the South would be useful to gain the trust of people within disadvantaged, African American communities as the Church was a pillar within the community.[96] Also, political leaders such as W.E.B. Dubois were quoted in the Project proposal criticizing Black people in the United States for having many children and for being less intelligent than their white counterparts:

… the mass of ignorant Negroes still breed carelessly and disastrously, so that the increase among Negroes, even more than the increase among Whites, is from that part of the population least intelligent and fit, and least able to rear their children properly.[95]

Even though The Negro Project received a lot of praise from white leaders and eugenicists of the time, it is important to note that Margaret Sanger wanted to clear concerns that this was not a project to terminate African Americans.[96] To add to the clarification, she received support from prominent African American leaders such as Mary McLeod Bethune and Adam Clayton Powell Jr.[95] These leaders and many more would later serve on the Negro National Advisory Council of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1942.

Eugenics has been supported by members of the African American community for a long time.[when?] For example, Dr. Thomas Wyatt Turner, a professor at Howard University and a well respected scientist incorporated eugenics into his classes. The NAACP founder asked his students how eugenics can affect society in a good way in 1915. Eugenics seemed to be[weaselwords] accepted by all kinds of people. W.E.B DuBois, a historian and civil rights leader had some beliefs that lined up with eugenics. He believed in developing the best versions of African Americans in order for his race to succeed. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. even received an award from Planned Parenthood in 1966 and in his acceptance speech, given by his wife, King discussed how large families are no longer functional in an urban setting. King claimed that in the cities, African Americans who continued to have children were over populating the ghettos. She continued by saying that having this many unwanted children is a bad problem that needs to be controlled, a belief that aligns with the eugenics movement.[97]

After the eugenics movement was well established in the United States, it spread to Germany. California eugenicists began producing literature promoting eugenics and sterilization and sending it overseas to German scientists and medical professionals.[7] By 1933, California had subjected more people to forceful sterilization than all other U.S. states combined. The forced sterilization program engineered by the Nazis was partly inspired by California’s.[8]

The Rockefeller Foundation helped develop and fund various German eugenics programs,[98] including the one that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.[7]

Upon returning from Germany in 1934, where more than 5,000 people per month were being forcibly sterilized, the California eugenics leader C. M. Goethe bragged to a colleague:

You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought … I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people.[7]

Eugenics researcher Harry H. Laughlin often bragged that his Model Eugenic Sterilization laws had been implemented in the 1935 Nuremberg racial hygiene laws.[99] In 1936, Laughlin was invited to an award ceremony at Heidelberg University in Germany (scheduled on the anniversary of Hitler’s 1934 purge of Jews from the Heidelberg faculty), to receive an honorary doctorate for his work on the “science of racial cleansing”. Due to financial limitations, Laughlin was unable to attend the ceremony and had to pick it up from the Rockefeller Institute. Afterwards, he proudly shared the award with his colleagues, remarking that he felt that it symbolized the “common understanding of German and American scientists of the nature of eugenics.”[100]

Henry Friedlander wrote that although the German and American eugenics movements were similar, the US did not follow the same slippery slope as Nazi eugenics because American “federalism and political heterogeneity encouraged diversity even with a single movement.” In contrast, the German eugenics movement was more centralized and had fewer diverse ideas.[101] Unlike the American movement, one publication and one society, the German Society for Racial Hygiene, represented all German eugenicists in the early 20th century.[101][102]

After 1945, however, historians began to try to portray the US eugenics movement as distinct and distant from Nazi eugenics.[103] Jon Entine wrote that eugenics simply means “good genes” and using it as synonym for genocide is an “all-too-common distortion of the social history of genetics policy in the United States.” According to Entine, eugenics developed out of the Progressive Era and not “Hitler’s twisted Final Solution.”[104]

After Hitler’s advanced idea of eugenics, the movement lost its place in society for a bit of time. Although eugenics was not thought about much, aspects like sterilization were still going on, just not at such a public level. Although as technology developed so did the movement, the new technologies made way for genetic engineering. Instead of sterilizing people to ultimately get rid of “undesirable” people, genetic engineering “changes or removes genes to prevent disease or improve the body in some significant way.”[105]

One positive of genetic engineering is its ability to cure and prevent life-threatening diseases. Genetic engineering began in the 1970s, this is when scientists began to clone and engineer genes. From this scientists were able to create human insulin, the first-ever genetically-engineered drug. Because of this development, over the years scientists were able to create new drugs to treat devastating diseases. For example, in the early 1990s, a group of scientists were able to use a gene-drug to treat severe combined immunodeficiency in a little girl. This disease forces victims to live inside a sanitized bubble. Due to the gene therapy, the girl was cured and able to live outside of her plastic bubble.[106] Developments like this are being made constantly because of genetic engineering, however genetic engineering also has many negatives.

One negative of genetic engineering is the practice of eliminating “undesirable traits” within humans and its ethics. This ultimately causes a link between genetic engineering and eugenics. This practice creates many social issues in society. Many people believe using genetic engineering to essentially “perfect” the human race is a damaging practice. For example, with current genetic tests, parents are able to test a fetus for any life-threatening diseases that may impact the child’s life and then choose to abort the baby.[105] The public fears this will cause issues due to the fact that practices like these may be used to eliminate entire groups of people, like the way Hitler used the idea. The basis of Hitler’s movement was to create a superior Aryan race, he wanted to eliminate every other race. While he did not have the genetic engineering technology then, this technology could be used with similar tactics as Hitler with permanent modifications to human germ lines and the ability to terminate a pregnancy that won’t produce the best baby.[107] Genetic engineering can also lead to trait selection and enhancement in embryos. One dilemma with this application is that most genes have an effect on more than one area of the body. For example, there is a gene that deals with memory, when scientists altered this gene to improve memory and learning in mice, it also increased their sensitivity to pain. There is also the issue of whether it is ethical to do such a thing to embryos because they cannot consent to the procedure. This also leads to issues within a socio-economic standpoint. Many people see this as an opportunity for the rich to continue to improve their children when the poor are left to “suffer” with their “undesirable” genes.[108]

The 1978 Federal Sterilization Regulations, created by the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare or HEW, (now the United States Department of Health and Human Services) outline a variety of prohibited sterilization practices that were often used previously to coerce or force women into sterilization.[109] These were intended to prevent such eugenics and neo-eugenics as resulted in the involuntary sterilization of large groups of poor and minority women. Such practices include: not conveying to patients that sterilization is permanent and irreversible, in their own language (including the option to end the process or procedure at any time without conceding any future medical attention or federal benefits, the ability to ask any and all questions about the procedure and its ramifications, the requirement that the consent seeker describes the procedure fully including any and all possible discomforts and/or side-effects and any and all benefits of sterilization); failing to provide alternative information about methods of contraception, family planning, or pregnancy termination that are nonpermanent and/or irreversible (this includes abortion); conditioning receiving welfare and/or Medicaid benefits by the individual or his/her children on the individuals “consenting” to permanent sterilization; tying elected abortion to compulsory sterilization (cannot receive a sought out abortion without “consenting” to sterilization); using hysterectomy as sterilization; and subjecting minors and the mentally incompetent to sterilization.[109][67][110] The regulations also include an extension of the informed consent waiting period from 72 hours to 30 days (with a maximum of 180 days between informed consent and the sterilization procedure).[67][109][110]

However, several studies have indicated that the forms are often dense and complex and beyond the literacy aptitude of the average American, and those seeking publicly funded sterilization are more likely to possess below-average literacy skills.[111] High levels of misinformation concerning sterilization still exist among individuals who have already undergone sterilization procedures, with permanence being one of the most common gray factors.[111][112] Additionally, federal enforcement of the requirements of the 1978 Federal Sterilization Regulation is inconsistent and some of the prohibited abuses continue to be pervasive, particularly in underfunded hospitals and lower income patient hospitals and care centers.[67][110]

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Eugenics in the United States – Wikipedia

Eugenics – Wikipedia

Eugenics (; from Greek eugenes ‘well-born’ from eu, ‘good, well’ and genos, ‘race, stock, kin’)[2][3] is a set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of a human population.[4][5] The exact definition of eugenics has been a matter of debate since the term was coined by Francis Galton in 1883. The concept predates this coinage, with Plato suggesting applying the principles of selective breeding to humans around 400BCE.

Frederick Osborn’s 1937 journal article “Development of a Eugenic Philosophy”[6] framed it as a social philosophythat is, a philosophy with implications for social order. That definition is not universally accepted. Osborn advocated for higher rates of sexual reproduction among people with desired traits (positive eugenics), or reduced rates of sexual reproduction and sterilization of people with less-desired or undesired traits (negative eugenics).

Alternatively, gene selection rather than “people selection” has recently been made possible through advances in genome editing,[7] leading to what is sometimes called new eugenics, also known as neo-eugenics, consumer eugenics, or liberal eugenics.

While eugenic principles have been practiced as far back in world history as ancient Greece, the modern history of eugenics began in the early 20th century when a popular eugenics movement emerged in the United Kingdom[8] and spread to many countries including the United States, Canada[9] and most European countries. In this period, eugenic ideas were espoused across the political spectrum. Consequently, many countries adopted eugenic policies with the intent to improve the quality of their populations’ genetic stock. Such programs included both “positive” measures, such as encouraging individuals deemed particularly “fit” to reproduce, and “negative” measures such as marriage prohibitions and forced sterilization of people deemed unfit for reproduction. People deemed unfit to reproduce often included people with mental or physical disabilities, people who scored in the low ranges of different IQ tests, criminals and deviants, and members of disfavored minority groups. The eugenics movement became negatively associated with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust when many of the defendants at the Nuremberg trials attempted to justify their human rights abuses by claiming there was little difference between the Nazi eugenics programs and the U.S. eugenics programs.[10] In the decades following World War II, with the institution of human rights, many countries gradually began to abandon eugenics policies, although some Western countries, among them the United States and Sweden, continued to carry out forced sterilizations.

Since the 1980s and 1990s, when new assisted reproductive technology procedures became available such as gestational surrogacy (available since 1985), preimplantation genetic diagnosis (available since 1989), and cytoplasmic transfer (first performed in 1996), fear has emerged about a possible revival of eugenics.

A major criticism of eugenics policies is that, regardless of whether “negative” or “positive” policies are used, they are susceptible to abuse because the criteria of selection are determined by whichever group is in political power at the time. Furthermore, negative eugenics in particular is considered by many to be a violation of basic human rights, which include the right to reproduction. Another criticism is that eugenic policies eventually lead to a loss of genetic diversity, resulting in inbreeding depression due to lower genetic variation.

Seneca the Younger

The concept of positive eugenics to produce better human beings has existed at least since Plato suggested selective mating to produce a guardian class.[12] In Sparta, every Spartan child was inspected by the council of elders, the Gerousia, which determined if the child was fit to live or not. In the early years of ancient Rome, a Roman father was obliged by law to immediately kill his child if they were physically disabled.[13] Among the ancient Germanic tribes, people who were cowardly, unwarlike or “stained with abominable vices” were put to death, usually by being drowned in swamps.[14][15]

The first formal negative eugenics, that is a legal provision against the birth of allegedly inferior human beings, was promulgated in Western European culture by the Christian Council of Agde in 506, which forbade marriage between cousins.[16]

This idea was also promoted by William Goodell (18291894) who advocated the castration and spaying of the insane.[17][18]

The idea of a modern project of improving the human population through a statistical understanding of heredity used to encourage good breeding was originally developed by Francis Galton and, initially, was closely linked to Darwinism and his theory of natural selection.[20] Galton had read his half-cousin Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which sought to explain the development of plant and animal species, and desired to apply it to humans. Based on his biographical studies, Galton believed that desirable human qualities were hereditary traits, though Darwin strongly disagreed with this elaboration of his theory.[21] In 1883, one year after Darwin’s death, Galton gave his research a name: eugenics.[22] With the introduction of genetics, eugenics became associated with genetic determinism, the belief that human character is entirely or in the majority caused by genes, unaffected by education or living conditions. Many of the early geneticists were not Darwinians, and evolution theory was not needed for eugenics policies based on genetic determinism.[20] Throughout its recent history, eugenics has remained controversial.

Eugenics became an academic discipline at many colleges and universities and received funding from many sources.[24] Organizations were formed to win public support and sway opinion towards responsible eugenic values in parenthood, including the British Eugenics Education Society of 1907 and the American Eugenics Society of 1921. Both sought support from leading clergymen and modified their message to meet religious ideals.[25] In 1909 the Anglican clergymen William Inge and James Peile both wrote for the British Eugenics Education Society. Inge was an invited speaker at the 1921 International Eugenics Conference, which was also endorsed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York Patrick Joseph Hayes.[25]

Three International Eugenics Conferences presented a global venue for eugenists with meetings in 1912 in London, and in 1921 and 1932 in New York City. Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United States.[26] It also took root in France, Germany, and Great Britain.[27] Later, in the 1920s and 1930s, the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in other countries including Belgium,[28] Brazil,[29] Canada,[30] Japan and Sweden.

In addition to being practiced in a number of countries, eugenics was internationally organized through the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations. Its scientific aspects were carried on through research bodies such as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, the Cold Spring Harbour Carnegie Institution for Experimental Evolution, and the Eugenics Record Office. Politically, the movement advocated measures such as sterilization laws. In its moral dimension, eugenics rejected the doctrine that all human beings are born equal and redefined moral worth purely in terms of genetic fitness. Its racist elements included pursuit of a pure “Nordic race” or “Aryan” genetic pool and the eventual elimination of “unfit” races.

Early critics of the philosophy of eugenics included the American sociologist Lester Frank Ward,[39] the English writer G. K. Chesterton, the German-American anthropologist Franz Boas, who argued that advocates of eugenics greatly over-estimate the influence of biology,[40] and Scottish tuberculosis pioneer and author Halliday Sutherland. Ward’s 1913 article “Eugenics, Euthenics, and Eudemics”, Chesterton’s 1917 book Eugenics and Other Evils, and Boas’ 1916 article “Eugenics” (published in The Scientific Monthly) were all harshly critical of the rapidly growing movement. Sutherland identified eugenists as a major obstacle to the eradication and cure of tuberculosis in his 1917 address “Consumption: Its Cause and Cure”,[41] and criticism of eugenists and Neo-Malthusians in his 1921 book Birth Control led to a writ for libel from the eugenist Marie Stopes. Several biologists were also antagonistic to the eugenics movement, including Lancelot Hogben.[42] Other biologists such as J. B. S. Haldane and R. A. Fisher expressed skepticism in the belief that sterilization of “defectives” would lead to the disappearance of undesirable genetic traits.[43]

Among institutions, the Catholic Church was an opponent of state-enforced sterilizations.[44] Attempts by the Eugenics Education Society to persuade the British government to legalize voluntary sterilization were opposed by Catholics and by the Labour Party.[45] The American Eugenics Society initially gained some Catholic supporters, but Catholic support declined following the 1930 papal encyclical Casti connubii.[25] In this, Pope Pius XI explicitly condemned sterilization laws: “Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason.”[46]

As a social movement, eugenics reached its greatest popularity in the early decades of the 20th century, when it was practiced around the world and promoted by governments, institutions, and influential individuals. Many countries enacted[47] various eugenics policies, including: genetic screenings, birth control, promoting differential birth rates, marriage restrictions, segregation (both racial segregation and sequestering the mentally ill), compulsory sterilization, forced abortions or forced pregnancies, ultimately culminating in genocide.

The scientific reputation of eugenics started to decline in the 1930s, a time when Ernst Rdin used eugenics as a justification for the racial policies of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler had praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf in 1925 and emulated eugenic legislation for the sterilization of “defectives” that had been pioneered in the United States once he took power. Some common early 20th century eugenics methods involved identifying and classifying individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, promiscuous women, homosexuals, and racial groups (such as the Roma and Jews in Nazi Germany) as “degenerate” or “unfit”, and therefore led to segregation, institutionalization, sterilization, euthanasia, and even mass murder. The Nazi practice of euthanasia was carried out on hospital patients in the Aktion T4 centers such as Hartheim Castle.

By the end of World War II, many discriminatory eugenics laws were abandoned, having become associated with Nazi Germany.[50] H. G. Wells, who had called for “the sterilization of failures” in 1904,[51] stated in his 1940 book The Rights of Man: Or What are we fighting for? that among the human rights, which he believed should be available to all people, was “a prohibition on mutilation, sterilization, torture, and any bodily punishment”.[52] After World War II, the practice of “imposing measures intended to prevent births within [a national, ethnical, racial or religious] group” fell within the definition of the new international crime of genocide, set out in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.[53] The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union also proclaims “the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at selection of persons”.[54] In spite of the decline in discriminatory eugenics laws, some government mandated sterilizations continued into the 21st century. During the ten years President Alberto Fujimori led Peru from 1990 to 2000, 2,000 persons were allegedly involuntarily sterilized.[55] China maintained its one-child policy until 2015 as well as a suite of other eugenics based legislation to reduce population size and manage fertility rates of different populations.[56][57][58] In 2007 the United Nations reported coercive sterilizations and hysterectomies in Uzbekistan.[59] During the years 2005 to 2013, nearly one-third of the 144 California prison inmates who were sterilized did not give lawful consent to the operation.[60]

Developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised numerous questions regarding the ethical status of eugenics, effectively creating a resurgence of interest in the subject.Some, such as UC Berkeley sociologist Troy Duster, claim that modern genetics is a back door to eugenics.[61] This view is shared by White House Assistant Director for Forensic Sciences, Tania Simoncelli, who stated in a 2003 publication by the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College that advances in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) are moving society to a “new era of eugenics”, and that, unlike the Nazi eugenics, modern eugenics is consumer driven and market based, “where children are increasingly regarded as made-to-order consumer products”.[62] In a 2006 newspaper article, Richard Dawkins said that discussion regarding eugenics was inhibited by the shadow of Nazi misuse, to the extent that some scientists would not admit that breeding humans for certain abilities is at all possible. He believes that it is not physically different from breeding domestic animals for traits such as speed or herding skill. Dawkins felt that enough time had elapsed to at least ask just what the ethical differences were between breeding for ability versus training athletes or forcing children to take music lessons, though he could think of persuasive reasons to draw the distinction.[63]

Lee Kuan Yew, the Founding Father of Singapore, started promoting eugenics as early as 1983.[64][65]

In October 2015, the United Nations’ International Bioethics Committee wrote that the ethical problems of human genetic engineering should not be confused with the ethical problems of the 20th century eugenics movements. However, it is still problematic because it challenges the idea of human equality and opens up new forms of discrimination and stigmatization for those who do not want, or cannot afford, the technology.[66]

Transhumanism is often associated with eugenics, although most transhumanists holding similar views nonetheless distance themselves from the term “eugenics” (preferring “germinal choice” or “reprogenetics”)[67] to avoid having their position confused with the discredited theories and practices of early-20th-century eugenic movements.

Prenatal screening can be considered a form of contemporary eugenics because it may lead to abortions of children with undesirable traits.[68]

The term eugenics and its modern field of study were first formulated by Francis Galton in 1883,[69] drawing on the recent work of his half-cousin Charles Darwin.[70][71] Galton published his observations and conclusions in his book Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development.

The origins of the concept began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance and the theories of August Weismann. The word eugenics is derived from the Greek word eu (“good” or “well”) and the suffix -gens (“born”), and was coined by Galton in 1883 to replace the word “stirpiculture”, which he had used previously but which had come to be mocked due to its perceived sexual overtones.[73] Galton defined eugenics as “the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations”.[74]

Historically, the term eugenics has referred to everything from prenatal care for mothers to forced sterilization and euthanasia.[75] To population geneticists, the term has included the avoidance of inbreeding without altering allele frequencies; for example, J. B. S. Haldane wrote that “the motor bus, by breaking up inbred village communities, was a powerful eugenic agent.”[76] Debate as to what exactly counts as eugenics continues today.[77]

Edwin Black, journalist and author of War Against the Weak, claims eugenics is often deemed a pseudoscience because what is defined as a genetic improvement of a desired trait is often deemed a cultural choice rather than a matter that can be determined through objective scientific inquiry.[78] The most disputed aspect of eugenics has been the definition of “improvement” of the human gene pool, such as what is a beneficial characteristic and what is a defect. Historically, this aspect of eugenics was tainted with scientific racism and pseudoscience.[79][80][81]

Early eugenists were mostly concerned with factors of perceived intelligence that often correlated strongly with social class. Some of these early eugenists include Karl Pearson and Walter Weldon, who worked on this at the University College London.[21]

Eugenics also had a place in medicine. In his lecture “Darwinism, Medical Progress and Eugenics”, Karl Pearson said that everything concerning eugenics fell into the field of medicine. He basically placed the two words as equivalents. He was supported in part by the fact that Francis Galton, the father of eugenics, also had medical training.[82]

Eugenic policies have been conceptually divided into two categories.[75] Positive eugenics is aimed at encouraging reproduction among the genetically advantaged; for example, the reproduction of the intelligent, the healthy, and the successful. Possible approaches include financial and political stimuli, targeted demographic analyses, in vitro fertilization, egg transplants, and cloning.[83] The movie Gattaca provides a fictional example of a dystopian society that uses eugenics to decided what you are capable of and your place in the world. Negative eugenics aimed to eliminate, through sterilization or segregation, those deemed physically, mentally, or morally “undesirable”. This includes abortions, sterilization, and other methods of family planning.[83] Both positive and negative eugenics can be coercive; abortion for fit women, for example, was illegal in Nazi Germany.[84]

Jon Entine claims that eugenics simply means “good genes” and using it as synonym for genocide is an “all-too-common distortion of the social history of genetics policy in the United States.” According to Entine, eugenics developed out of the Progressive Era and not “Hitler’s twisted Final Solution”.[85]

According to Richard Lynn, eugenics may be divided into two main categories based on the ways in which the methods of eugenics can be applied.[86]

The first major challenge to conventional eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was made in 1915 by Thomas Hunt Morgan. He demonstrated the event of genetic mutation occurring outside of inheritance involving the discovery of the hatching of a fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) with white eyes from a family with red eyes. Morgan claimed that this demonstrated that major genetic changes occurred outside of inheritance and that the concept of eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was not completely scientifically accurate. Additionally, Morgan criticized the view that subjective traits, such as intelligence and criminality, were caused by heredity because he believed that the definitions of these traits varied and that accurate work in genetics could only be done when the traits being studied were accurately defined.[123] Despite Morgan’s public rejection of eugenics, much of his genetic research was absorbed by eugenics.[124][125]

The heterozygote test is used for the early detection of recessive hereditary diseases, allowing for couples to determine if they are at risk of passing genetic defects to a future child.[126] The goal of the test is to estimate the likelihood of passing the hereditary disease to future descendants.[126]

Recessive traits can be severely reduced, but never eliminated unless the complete genetic makeup of all members of the pool was known, as aforementioned. As only very few undesirable traits, such as Huntington’s disease, are dominant, it could be argued[by whom?] from certain perspectives that the practicality of “eliminating” traits is quite low.[citation needed]

There are examples of eugenic acts that managed to lower the prevalence of recessive diseases, although not influencing the prevalence of heterozygote carriers of those diseases. The elevated prevalence of certain genetically transmitted diseases among the Ashkenazi Jewish population (TaySachs, cystic fibrosis, Canavan’s disease, and Gaucher’s disease), has been decreased in current populations by the application of genetic screening.[127]

Pleiotropy occurs when one gene influences multiple, seemingly unrelated phenotypic traits, an example being phenylketonuria, which is a human disease that affects multiple systems but is caused by one gene defect.[128] Andrzej Pkalski, from the University of Wrocaw, argues that eugenics can cause harmful loss of genetic diversity if a eugenics program selects a pleiotropic gene that could possibly be associated with a positive trait. Pekalski uses the example of a coercive government eugenics program that prohibits people with myopia from breeding but has the unintended consequence of also selecting against high intelligence since the two go together.[129]

Eugenic policies could also lead to loss of genetic diversity, in which case a culturally accepted “improvement” of the gene pool could very likelyas evidenced in numerous instances in isolated island populations result in extinction due to increased vulnerability to disease, reduced ability to adapt to environmental change, and other factors both known and unknown. A long-term, species-wide eugenics plan might lead to a scenario similar to this because the elimination of traits deemed undesirable would reduce genetic diversity by definition.[130]

Edward M. Miller claims that, in any one generation, any realistic program should make only minor changes in a fraction of the gene pool, giving plenty of time to reverse direction if unintended consequences emerge, reducing the likelihood of the elimination of desirable genes.[131] Miller also argues that any appreciable reduction in diversity is so far in the future that little concern is needed for now.[131]

While the science of genetics has increasingly provided means by which certain characteristics and conditions can be identified and understood, given the complexity of human genetics, culture, and psychology, at this point no agreed objective means of determining which traits might be ultimately desirable or undesirable. Some diseases such as sickle-cell disease and cystic fibrosis respectively confer immunity to malaria and resistance to cholera when a single copy of the recessive allele is contained within the genotype of the individual. Reducing the instance of sickle-cell disease genes in Africa where malaria is a common and deadly disease could indeed have extremely negative net consequences.

However, some genetic diseases cause people to consider some elements of eugenics.

Societal and political consequences of eugenics call for a place in the discussion on the ethics behind the eugenics movement.[132] Many of the ethical concerns regarding eugenics arise from its controversial past, prompting a discussion on what place, if any, it should have in the future. Advances in science have changed eugenics. In the past, eugenics had more to do with sterilization and enforced reproduction laws.[133] Now, in the age of a progressively mapped genome, embryos can be tested for susceptibility to disease, gender, and genetic defects, and alternative methods of reproduction such as in vitro fertilization are becoming more common.[134] Therefore, eugenics is no longer ex post facto regulation of the living but instead preemptive action on the unborn.[135]

With this change, however, there are ethical concerns which lack adequate attention, and which must be addressed before eugenic policies can be properly implemented in the future. Sterilized individuals, for example, could volunteer for the procedure, albeit under incentive or duress, or at least voice their opinion. The unborn fetus on which these new eugenic procedures are performed cannot speak out, as the fetus lacks the voice to consent or to express his or her opinion.[136] Philosophers disagree about the proper framework for reasoning about such actions, which change the very identity and existence of future persons.[137]

A common criticism of eugenics is that “it inevitably leads to measures that are unethical”.[138] Some fear future “eugenics wars” as the worst-case scenario: the return of coercive state-sponsored genetic discrimination and human rights violations such as compulsory sterilization of persons with genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, specifically, segregation and genocide of races perceived as inferior.[139] Health law professor George Annas and technology law professor Lori Andrews are prominent advocates of the position that the use of these technologies could lead to such human-posthuman caste warfare.[140][141]

In his 2003 book Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, environmental ethicist Bill McKibben argued at length against germinal choice technology and other advanced biotechnological strategies for human enhancement. He writes that it would be morally wrong for humans to tamper with fundamental aspects of themselves (or their children) in an attempt to overcome universal human limitations, such as vulnerability to aging, maximum life span and biological constraints on physical and cognitive ability. Attempts to “improve” themselves through such manipulation would remove limitations that provide a necessary context for the experience of meaningful human choice. He claims that human lives would no longer seem meaningful in a world where such limitations could be overcome with technology. Even the goal of using germinal choice technology for clearly therapeutic purposes should be relinquished, since it would inevitably produce temptations to tamper with such things as cognitive capacities. He argues that it is possible for societies to benefit from renouncing particular technologies, using as examples Ming China, Tokugawa Japan and the contemporary Amish.[142]

Some, for example Nathaniel C. Comfort from Johns Hopkins University, claim that the change from state-led reproductive-genetic decision-making to individual choice has moderated the worst abuses of eugenics by transferring the decision-making from the state to the patient and their family.[143] Comfort suggests that “the eugenic impulse drives us to eliminate disease, live longer and healthier, with greater intelligence, and a better adjustment to the conditions of society; and the health benefits, the intellectual thrill and the profits of genetic bio-medicine are too great for us to do otherwise.”[144] Others, such as bioethicist Stephen Wilkinson of Keele University and Honorary Research Fellow Eve Garrard at the University of Manchester, claim that some aspects of modern genetics can be classified as eugenics, but that this classification does not inherently make modern genetics immoral. In a co-authored publication by Keele University, they stated that “[e]ugenics doesn’t seem always to be immoral, and so the fact that PGD, and other forms of selective reproduction, might sometimes technically be eugenic, isn’t sufficient to show that they’re wrong.”[145]

In their book published in 2000, From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice, bioethicists Allen Buchanan, Dan Brock, Norman Daniels and Daniel Wikler argued that liberal societies have an obligation to encourage as wide an adoption of eugenic enhancement technologies as possible (so long as such policies do not infringe on individuals’ reproductive rights or exert undue pressures on prospective parents to use these technologies) in order to maximize public health and minimize the inequalities that may result from both natural genetic endowments and unequal access to genetic enhancements.[146]

Original position, a hypothetical situation developed by American philosopher John Rawls, has been used as an argument for negative eugenics.[147][148]

Notes

Bibliography

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Eugenics – Wikipedia

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eugenics | Description, History, & Modern Eugenics …

Eugenics, the selection of desired heritable characteristics in order to improve future generations, typically in reference to humans. The term eugenics was coined in 1883 by British explorer and natural scientist Francis Galton, who, influenced by Charles Darwins theory of natural selection, advocated a system that would allow the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable. Social Darwinism, the popular theory in the late 19th century that life for humans in society was ruled by survival of the fittest, helped advance eugenics into serious scientific study in the early 1900s. By World War I many scientific authorities and political leaders supported eugenics. However, it ultimately failed as a science in the 1930s and 40s, when the assumptions of eugenicists became heavily criticized and the Nazis used eugenics to support the extermination of entire races.

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biological determinism: The eugenics movement

One of the most prominent movements to apply genetics to understanding social and personality traits was the eugenics movement, which originated in the late 19th century. Eugenics was coined in 1883 by British explorer and naturalist Francis Galton, who was influenced by the

Although eugenics as understood today dates from the late 19th century, efforts to select matings in order to secure offspring with desirable traits date from ancient times. Platos Republic (c. 378 bce) depicts a society where efforts are undertaken to improve human beings through selective breeding. Later, Italian philosopher and poet Tommaso Campanella, in City of the Sun (1623), described a utopian community in which only the socially elite are allowed to procreate. Galton, in Hereditary Genius (1869), proposed that a system of arranged marriages between men of distinction and women of wealth would eventually produce a gifted race. In 1865 the basic laws of heredity were discovered by the father of modern genetics, Gregor Mendel. His experiments with peas demonstrated that each physical trait was the result of a combination of two units (now known as genes) and could be passed from one generation to another. However, his work was largely ignored until its rediscovery in 1900. This fundamental knowledge of heredity provided eugenicistsincluding Galton, who influenced his cousin Charles Darwinwith scientific evidence to support the improvement of humans through selective breeding.

The advancement of eugenics was concurrent with an increasing appreciation of Darwins account for change or evolution within societywhat contemporaries referred to as social Darwinism. Darwin had concluded his explanations of evolution by arguing that the greatest step humans could make in their own history would occur when they realized that they were not completely guided by instinct. Rather, humans, through selective reproduction, had the ability to control their own future evolution. A language pertaining to reproduction and eugenics developed, leading to terms such as positive eugenics, defined as promoting the proliferation of good stock, and negative eugenics, defined as prohibiting marriage and breeding between defective stock. For eugenicists, nature was far more contributory than nurture in shaping humanity.

During the early 1900s eugenics became a serious scientific study pursued by both biologists and social scientists. They sought to determine the extent to which human characteristics of social importance were inherited. Among their greatest concerns were the predictability of intelligence and certain deviant behaviours. Eugenics, however, was not confined to scientific laboratories and academic institutions. It began to pervade cultural thought around the globe, including the Scandinavian countries, most other European countries, North America, Latin America, Japan, China, and Russia. In the United States the eugenics movement began during the Progressive Era and remained active through 1940. It gained considerable support from leading scientific authorities such as zoologist Charles B. Davenport, plant geneticist Edward M. East, and geneticist and Nobel Prize laureate Hermann J. Muller. Political leaders in favour of eugenics included U.S. Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, Secretary of State Elihu Root, and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall Harlan. Internationally, there were many individuals whose work supported eugenic aims, including British scientists J.B.S. Haldane and Julian Huxley and Russian scientists Nikolay K. Koltsov and Yury A. Filipchenko.

Galton had endowed a research fellowship in eugenics in 1904 and, in his will, provided funds for a chair of eugenics at University College, London. The fellowship and later the chair were occupied by Karl Pearson, a brilliant mathematician who helped to create the science of biometry, the statistical aspects of biology. Pearson was a controversial figure who believed that environment had little to do with the development of mental or emotional qualities. He felt that the high birth rate of the poor was a threat to civilization and that the higher races must supplant the lower. His views gave countenance to those who believed in racial and class superiority. Thus, Pearson shares the blame for the discredit later brought on eugenics.

In the United States, the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) was opened at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York, in 1910 with financial support from the legacy of railroad magnate Edward Henry Harriman. Whereas ERO efforts were officially overseen by Charles B. Davenport, director of the Station for Experimental Study of Evolution (one of the biology research stations at Cold Spring Harbor), ERO activities were directly superintended by Harry H. Laughlin, a professor from Kirksville, Missouri. The ERO was organized around a series of missions. These missions included serving as the national repository and clearinghouse for eugenics information, compiling an index of traits in American families, training fieldworkers to gather data throughout the United States, supporting investigations into the inheritance patterns of particular human traits and diseases, advising on the eugenic fitness of proposed marriages, and communicating all eugenic findings through a series of publications. To accomplish these goals, further funding was secured from the Carnegie Institution of Washington, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the Battle Creek Race Betterment Foundation, and the Human Betterment Foundation.

Prior to the founding of the ERO, eugenics work in the United States was overseen by a standing committee of the American Breeders Association (eugenics section established in 1906), chaired by ichthyologist and Stanford University president David Starr Jordan. Research from around the globe was featured at three international congresses, held in 1912, 1921, and 1932. In addition, eugenics education was monitored in Britain by the English Eugenics Society (founded by Galton in 1907 as the Eugenics Education Society) and in the United States by the American Eugenics Society.

Following World War I, the United States gained status as a world power. A concomitant fear arose that if the healthy stock of the American people became diluted with socially undesirable traits, the countrys political and economic strength would begin to crumble. The maintenance of world peace by fostering democracy, capitalism, and, at times, eugenics-based schemes was central to the activities of the Internationalists, a group of prominent American leaders in business, education, publishing, and government. One core member of this group, the New York lawyer Madison Grant, aroused considerable pro-eugenic interest through his best-selling book The Passing of the Great Race (1916). Beginning in 1920, a series of congressional hearings was held to identify problems that immigrants were causing the United States. As the countrys eugenics expert, Harry Laughlin provided tabulations showing that certain immigrants, particularly those from Italy, Greece, and Eastern Europe, were significantly overrepresented in American prisons and institutions for the feebleminded. Further data were construed to suggest that these groups were contributing too many genetically and socially inferior people. Laughlins classification of these individuals included the feebleminded, the insane, the criminalistic, the epileptic, the inebriate, the diseasedincluding those with tuberculosis, leprosy, and syphilisthe blind, the deaf, the deformed, the dependent, chronic recipients of charity, paupers, and neer-do-wells. Racial overtones also pervaded much of the British and American eugenics literature. In 1923 Laughlin was sent by the U.S. secretary of labour as an immigration agent to Europe to investigate the chief emigrant-exporting nations. Laughlin sought to determine the feasibility of a plan whereby every prospective immigrant would be interviewed before embarking to the United States. He provided testimony before Congress that ultimately led to a new immigration law in 1924 that severely restricted the annual immigration of individuals from countries previously claimed to have contributed excessively to the dilution of American good stock.

Immigration control was but one method to control eugenically the reproductive stock of a country. Laughlin appeared at the centre of other U.S. efforts to provide eugenicists greater reproductive control over the nation. He approached state legislators with a model law to control the reproduction of institutionalized populations. By 1920, two years before the publication of Laughlins influential Eugenical Sterilization in the United States (1922), 3,200 individuals across the country were reported to have been involuntarily sterilized. That number tripled by 1929, and by 1938 more than 30,000 people were claimed to have met this fate. More than half of the states adopted Laughlins law, with California, Virginia, and Michigan leading the sterilization campaign. Laughlins efforts secured staunch judicial support in 1927. In the precedent-setting case of Buck v. Bell, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., upheld the Virginia statute and claimed, It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.

During the 1930s eugenics gained considerable popular support across the United States. Hygiene courses in public schools and eugenics courses in colleges spread eugenic-minded values to many. A eugenics exhibit titled Pedigree-Study in Man was featured at the Chicago Worlds Fair in 193334. Consistent with the fairs Century of Progress theme, stations were organized around efforts to show how favourable traits in the human population could best be perpetuated. Contrasts were drawn between the emulative presidential Roosevelt family and the degenerate Ishmael family (one of several pseudonymous family names used, the rationale for which was not given). By studying the passage of ancestral traits, fairgoers were urged to adopt the progressive view that responsible individuals should pursue marriage ever mindful of eugenics principles. Booths were set up at county and state fairs promoting fitter families contests, and medals were awarded to eugenically sound families. Drawing again upon long-standing eugenic practices in agriculture, popular eugenic advertisements claimed it was about time that humans received the same attention in the breeding of better babies that had been given to livestock and crops for centuries.

Anti-eugenics sentiment began to appear after 1910 and intensified during the 1930s. Most commonly it was based on religious grounds. For example, the 1930 papal encyclical Casti connubii condemned reproductive sterilization, though it did not specifically prohibit positive eugenic attempts to amplify the inheritance of beneficial traits. Many Protestant writings sought to reconcile age-old Christian warnings about the heritable sins of the father to pro-eugenic ideals. Indeed, most of the religion-based popular writings of the period supported positive means of improving the physical and moral makeup of humanity.

In the early 1930s Nazi Germany adopted American measures to identify and selectively reduce the presence of those deemed to be socially inferior through involuntary sterilization. A rhetoric of positive eugenics in the building of a master race pervaded Rassenhygiene (racial hygiene) movements. When Germany extended its practices far beyond sterilization in efforts to eliminate the Jewish and other non-Aryan populations, the United States became increasingly concerned over its own support of eugenics. Many scientists, physicians, and political leaders began to denounce the work of the ERO publicly. After considerable reflection, the Carnegie Institution formally closed the ERO at the end of 1939.

During the aftermath of World War II, eugenics became stigmatized such that many individuals who had once hailed it as a science now spoke disparagingly of it as a failed pseudoscience. Eugenics was dropped from organization and publication names. In 1954 Britains Annals of Eugenics was renamed Annals of Human Genetics. In 1972 the American Eugenics Society adopted the less-offensive name Society for the Study of Social Biology. Its publication, once popularly known as the Eugenics Quarterly, had already been renamed Social Biology in 1969.

U.S. Senate hearings in 1973, chaired by Sen. Ted Kennedy, revealed that thousands of U.S. citizens had been sterilized under federally supported programs. The U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare proposed guidelines encouraging each state to repeal their respective sterilization laws. Other countries, most notably China, continue to support eugenics-directed programs openly in order to ensure the genetic makeup of their future.

Despite the dropping of the term eugenics, eugenic ideas remained prevalent in many issues surrounding human reproduction. Medical genetics, a post-World War II medical specialty, encompasses a wide range of health concerns, from genetic screening and counseling to fetal gene manipulation and the treatment of adults suffering from hereditary disorders. Because certain diseases (e.g., hemophilia and Tay-Sachs disease) are now known to be genetically transmitted, many couples choose to undergo genetic screening, in which they learn the chances that their offspring have of being affected by some combination of their hereditary backgrounds. Couples at risk of passing on genetic defects may opt to remain childless or to adopt children. Furthermore, it is now possible to diagnose certain genetic defects in the unborn. Many couples choose to terminate a pregnancy that involves a genetically disabled offspring. These developments have reinforced the eugenic aim of identifying and eliminating undesirable genetic material.

Counterbalancing this trend, however, has been medical progress that enables victims of many genetic diseases to live fairly normal lives. Direct manipulation of harmful genes is also being studied. If perfected, it could obviate eugenic arguments for restricting reproduction among those who carry harmful genes. Such conflicting innovations have complicated the controversy surrounding what many call the new eugenics. Moreover, suggestions for expanding eugenics programs, which range from the creation of sperm banks for the genetically superior to the potential cloning of human beings, have met with vigorous resistance from the public, which often views such programs as unwarranted interference with nature or as opportunities for abuse by authoritarian regimes.

Applications of the Human Genome Project are often referred to as Brave New World genetics or the new eugenics, in part because they have helped to dramatically increase knowledge of human genetics. In addition, 21st-century technologies such as gene editing, which can potentially be used to treat disease or to alter traits, have further renewed concerns. However, the ethical, legal, and social implications of such tools are monitored much more closely than were early 20th-century eugenics programs. Applications generally are more focused on the reduction of genetic diseases than on improving intelligence.

Still, with or without the use of the term, many eugenics-related concerns are reemerging as a new group of individuals decide how to regulate the application of genetics science and technology. This gene-directed activity, in attempting to improve upon nature, may not be that distant from what Galton implied in 1909 when he described eugenics as the study of agencies, under social control, which may improve or impair future generations.

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eugenics | Description, History, & Modern Eugenics …

Eugenics in the United States Today: Are We on the Same …

Creating an Elite Class of Super Humans

by John P. ThomasHealth Impact News

This is the first part of a two part series exploring the relationship between the controversial eugenics movement of the past and modern genetics. Eugenics was dedicated to cleansing and purifying humanity from inferior members with the hope of solving various social problems related to poverty, disability, and illness. To accomplish this, it sought to create a superior race of people and to use forced sterilization and extermination to eliminate future generations of defective human beings. Darwins theory of evolution was used to justify the practice of eugenics. Later, when eugenics fell from favor, modern genetics began to grow up from the ashes of the former movement.

When Adolf Hitler applied Darwins theory of evolution and the principles of eugenics to the goals of the German state, the result was the murder of eleven million men, women and children. These lives were sacrificed in the name of eugenics. Eugenicists were seeking to improve the conditions of life for humanity by creating a superior race of people.

The eugenics movement had a very dark side, which led to social control, loss of reproductive freedom, and the loss of life. Should we be concerned that modern genetic science might have a dark side as well? Will the fruit of genetic research be misused by ill-intentioned people to gain control over others as happened with eugenics in the past? Has modern genetics completely severed itself from its roots? Or, might it become the tool that will be used to try to create a master class of genetically superior human beings in America?

What are the deceptions and dangers of the modern genetics movement? Does true health and true happiness lie in the human genome? Are we really bound to the set of genes that we received from our parents, or can we overcome what we were given? What are the factors that activate or deactivate certain genes, and how can we control the expression of our genetic make-up to promote our health and the health of our children? What are the motivations of certain groups who want us to believe that genes control every aspect of our lives that we have no other options than to suffer while genetic scientists look for genetic cures for all that ails us? Are we really more than our genes or is our genetic code all there is?

These questions and many more will be examined in these articles. Lets begin by learning about the development of eugenics.

The word Eugenics means good genes. Eugenicists believe that principles of Darwins theory regarding the survival of the fittest can be used to support the elimination of weak and undesirable people from society. They believe that human beings are inherently no different than animals, and therefore we can and should be bred like animals. A farmer does not allow deficient cows in his herd to reproduce, and in the same way, eugenicists believe that certain people in our society should control human reproduction.

Simply put, eugenics consists of rational methods for putting evolution on the fast track, so that only the best people will reproduce and become superior beings. It is also the fast track for helping inferior families and inferior groups of people to stop their reproduction and to quickly die out.

Eugenicists believe that natural attraction, affection, and love between men and women should not be the basis upon which procreation should be based. Rather, scientists and the medical system should provide scientific and common sense control over the individuals who should be allowed to mate with one another. People with the best traits should be encouraged to reproduce, and those with defective traits should be prevented from producing children by various methods such as sterilization, segregation, and, if necessary, death.

A steady stream of information has been distributed in every corner of society for over 150 years telling us that defective germplasm, or bad genes, lead to problems of child development, illness, low achievement, alcoholism, and even poverty. We are also told that good genes must be present in order for people to live healthy, prosperous, and happy lives.

The general teaching is that our personal genetic code is the master blueprint that determines nearly everything about us. It determines our intellectual gifts, our artistic gifts, our physical structure, and establishes the parameters through which we will develop certain illnesses and ultimately die. We have been taught that this blueprint is written in stone, and if couples produce children, then their combined genetic material will create a new, unchangeable blueprint for their children. We are also told that the real cure for diseases will come from genetic repairs that are just beyond the horizon of modern science.

Scientists are using techniques of genetic engineering to modify plants and animals (GMOs). We are told that human modification is just around the corner. We are promised that the next step in medicine will be a personal one, where our illnesses will be treated with drugs that have been specifically formulated to match the requirements of our genetics. However, until that time comes, we must continue to rely on existing pharmaceutical drugs.

In short, we are being told that in some cases, there isnt much hope for healing until modern genetics brings us the cure for all that ails us. Thus, some of us and some of our children are doomed to a life of illness and suffering unless we are willing to consider other options.

The Massacre of the Innocents at Bethlehem, by Matteo di Giovanni, 1487. Source.

Some people now believe that if parents decide that they wish to have the life of their child brought to an end before age five, because of disability, illness, inconvenience of the parents, or for any other reason, then the parents should have the right to abort the child. So, if you dont like the color of his hair, the color of her eyes, the developmental delays that you are observing, the illnesses that are making life difficult, or the behaviors that you cannot control, then you should have the right to have your child aborted (legally killed) up to age 5 or 6. [1, 2, 3]

Historically, killing a child after it is born was called infanticide. This is now being given a new name post-birth abortion or after-birth abortion.

Central to this way of thinking is the belief that children are only potential human beings until they reach the age of self-awareness, which is believed to happen around age five. Proponents of post-birth abortion see children as disposable until the child becomes aware of its existence as a person and can begin to develop goals and ambitions for life.

It is believed that prior to age 5, children live in a pre-aware state, and have an animal-like existence, which is just like a chimpanzee, a dog, a chicken, or a pig. Thus, killing a young child because of bad genetic composition is no different than killing a sick dog or a mature pig that is ready to be processed into sausage.

Those who believe in post-birth abortion are challenging American society to reconsider how we value human life. They are observing the fact that we already permit babies in the womb to be killed, we encourage the termination of the lives of animals when they are seriously ill, and most of us approve of slaughtering animals to supply food. Based on this, they ask, Why do we extend special privileges to young children who have the same level of consciousness as animals or babies in the womb? Why do we preserve the lives of defective people who are draining society of its resources?

These groups extend their argument to the elderly as well. If a person with some form of dementia such as Alzheimers is no longer aware of his or her own existence as a human being, can no longer understand his or her medical condition, and is so frail and feebleminded that he or she can no longer contribute anything to society, then they would tell us that the termination of that persons life is no different than euthanizing an animal or aborting a baby in the womb.

The idea that people in authority should have the legal right to terminate the lives of other people in certain circumstances to benefit the greater good of society is not new. These thoughts have a long history, which was part of the original eugenics movement that began in 1859. The human extermination program that was implemented by Adolf Hitler before and during World War II was a prime example of eugenics. He was trying to purify the human race by killing all those who he determined would have an inferior contribution to the human germplasm if they were to reproduce. He and other leaders of the Third Reich believed that only superior human beings should be allowed to reproduce, and the inferior should be eliminated.

The proposal that we legalize the killing of defective children is just the reappearance of old style eugenics with a slightly new twist.

Eugenicists believe that everything about us is determined by genetic composition. Who we are and how we behave is determined almost entirely by our germplasm our personal genetic code.

If we have bad genes, then there is nothing that can be done about the situation. If our genes are seriously defective, then eugenicists would say that sterilization or termination of life is the best solution to the problem. Both of these options would help preserve future generations from inheriting defective germplasm from defective parents.

Eugenicists seek to create a class of people who possess superior attributes such as intelligence, physical strength, and physical appearance. They also seek to discourage reproduction by inferior people.

When techniques of discouragement fail to reduce the birth of new defectives, then forced sterilization of undesirables is pursued under the authority of the state. When sterilization is not practical, then termination of life is used to decrease the surplus population of defectives.

Eugenics historian Edwin Black carefully described the development of the Eugenics movement from the period of time beginning with the work of Charles Darwin in 1859 to our present time. He described the goals of eugenicists and their influence over social policy. His 566 page book records the history of the eugenics movement and shows how eugenics was transformed into modern genetics. The book is filled with quotations in which eugenicists explain their theories and their beliefs in their own words. Here is a taste of what he reported in his book, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and Americas Campaign to Create a Master Race. Mr. Black stated:

On May 2 and May 3, 1911, in Palmer, Massachusetts, the research committees of the ABAs [American Breeders Association] eugenic section adopted a resolution creating a special new committee. Resolved: that the chair appoint a committee commissioned to study and report on the best practical means for cutting off the defective germ-plasm of the American population.

Ten groups were eventually identified [by the American Breeders Association] as socially unfit and targeted for elimination. First, the feebleminded; second, the pauper class; third, the inebriate class or alcoholics; fourth, criminals of all descriptions including petty criminals and those jailed for nonpayment of fines; fifth, epileptics; sixth, the insane; seventh, the constitutionally weak class; eighth, those predisposed to specific diseases; ninth, the deformed; tenth, those with defective sense organs, that is, the deaf, blind and mute. In this last category, there was no indication of how severe the defect need be to qualify; no distinction was made between blurry vision or bad hearing and outright blindness or deafness.

Not content to [only] eliminate those deemed unfit by virtue of some malady, transgression, disadvantage or adverse circumstance, the ABA committee targeted their extended families as well. Even if those relatives seemed perfectly normal and were not institutionalized, the breeders considered them equally unfit because they supposedly carried the defective germ-plasm that might crop up in a future generation. The committee carefully weighed the relative value of sterilizing all persons with defective germ-plasm, or just sterilizing only degenerates. The group agreed that defective and potential parents of defectives not in institutions were also unacceptable [to society]. [4]

The notion that certain elite groups should be in charge of cleansing society of defective persons was popular in the United States during the first 45 years of the 20th century. It was only after the full extent of the eugenics program in Nazi Germany was brought to light that eugenicists in the United States began to take a less public position.

When Charles Darwins book The Origin of Species was published in 1859, it provided the perfect theory for those who believed in human breeding. Darwins cousin, Sir Francis Galton of England, applied The Origin of Species to his concerns about the degenerate state of society. Francis Galton believed social problems were caused by defects in human germplasm (genes). He believed that if defective people could be prevented from conceiving and giving birth to children, then problems such as poverty, mental illness, mental retardation, and alcoholism would die out.

Australian researcher and writer Roger Sandall described how Francis Galtons life was transformed by the theory of Darwinian evolution. Roger Sandall wrote:

Coming at a critical stage of both his scientific career and his domestic life, Darwins book shattered Galtons religious beliefs and turned him towards biological research. He always had what he called a hereditary bent of mind, and from 1859 he proceeded to investigate, he said later, matters clustered round the central topics of Heredity and the possible improvement of the Human Race. [5]

I will summarize a few additional points drawn from Roger Sandalls discussion of Francis Galton and the early eugenics movement. These points are not just the old and moldy views of a long dead eugenicist, but are beliefs that continue to influence the thinking of many people today.

Francis Galton taught his followers that only the genetically perfect should be allowed to reproduce. In his 1873 essay Hereditary Improvement he insists that those of feeble constitution must embrace celibacy lest they should bring beings into existence whose race is predoomed to destruction by the laws of nature.

Galton believed that certain races were superior, and the reproduction of inferior races should be tightly controlled so that only the few best specimens of that race would be allowed to become parents, and only a few of their descendants should be allowed to live.

Galton recommended that his country (England) should be scoured for the names and addresses of gifted people who would be urged to intermarry. This intellectual aristocracy would receive special benefits. Defectives would receive nothing at all. Endowments would be used to maintain a privileged class living in healthy circumstances, which would enable it to multiply in comfort.

Galton declared that the gifted class should treat lower classes with all kindness, so long as they maintained celibacy. But if these lower classes continued to procreate children who are morally, intellectually, and physically inferior, then it is easy to believe the time may come when such persons would be considered to be enemies of the state. As such, he believed that they would forfeit all their claims to kindness from the superior class.

Roger Sandall summarized Galtons effect on society and its moral underpinnings. Sandall stated:

When Galton wrote, late in life, that the effect of Darwinism was to demolish a multitude of dogmatic barriers by a single stroke, and to arouse a spirit of rebellion against all ancient authorities whose positive and unauthenticated statements were contradicted by modern science, a radical antinomian spirit was unleashed; and when he declared that eugenics must be introduced into the national conscience, like a new religion, adding that it has indeed strong claims to become an orthodox religious tenet of the future, a kind of displaced religious zeal was put at the service of political compulsion: allied to German nationalism, it is unsurprising that it led, step by step, to policies of racial exclusion and finally annihilation. [6]

Proponents of eugenics believe that a pure bloodline should be created that contains only the best traits of humanity. They believe that techniques of good breeding should be used to create a race of super humans who are made in the image of the eugenicists. These super humans will all be highly intelligent, strong, healthy, beautiful, talented, prosperous, motivated, and capable of submitting their will to the will and greater good of society.

Physical appearance is also seen as being important. People will need to have a certain skin color, hair color, eye color, and meet high standards for mental acuity and emotional stability. They also must possess ideal physical strength and physical form (either male or female) in order to have the right to reproduce.

People with a personal or family history of poverty, chronic illness, addiction, disabilities, lack of motivation, minimal intellectual achievement, and non-conformist thinking would be unwelcome in this new society, and would not be allowed to reproduce.

Three Ku Klux Klan members standing at a 1922 parade in Virginia. Image source.

Very few people use the word eugenics today when speaking in public, because it is on the list of politically incorrect words. Despite the positive rhetoric of eugenics, it was a highly racist endeavor, which sought to elevate one race above all others. This will be discussed in detail at a later point in this article.

Even though people no longer openly use the word eugenics, the insidious principles of eugenics can still be observed all around us in 21st century America. Eugenics is insidious, because it destroys life, denies reproductive freedom, destroys the functioning of the family structure, and targets certain classes and races of people for destruction. It does all this while seeking to establish a master race which is intended to dominate the world.

The plans of eugenicists closely follow the principles Darwins theory of evolution, which tells us that the strongest and fittest should overcome and replace the weak and inferior. Eugenicists have determined that they are the fittest and most able people for managing society and it is their responsibility as the superior beings to actively purge the weak and inferior from society. They believed that defective people need to be prevented from reproducing so that the number of defectives in the world will dwindle and fade away, while they, the fittest group of people, are allowed to survive and flourish.

American Inventor and Eugenicist Alexander Graham Bell. Image source.

Historically, the goals of the eugenics movement were to eliminate poverty, disability, numerous chronic illnesses, and human suffering. These lofty goals were designed to provide the greatest amount of happiness to society. On the surface, this sounds good to most people. These goals led many prominent Americans to support the eugenics agenda.

People such as Nobel laureate George Bernard Shaw, author H. G. Wells, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, among many others, were very involved in promoting eugenics. Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, was one of the most zealous participants in the American Eugenics Movement. [7]

College professors were prominent among both the officers and members of various eugenics societies which sprang up in the United States and Europe in the early 20th century. In virtually every college and university, professors were inspired by the new creed of eugenics, and most of the major colleges had credit courses on eugenics. These classes were typically well attended and their content was generally accepted as part of proven science. [8]

Eugenicists believed that the primary determinant of mankinds behavioral nature was genetic, and various environmental reforms designed to improve living conditions, for example, were largely useless. Further, the eugenics movement believed that those who were at the bottom of the social ladder in society, such as the Black race, were in this position not because of social injustice or discrimination, but as a result of their own inferiority. [9]

Carrie Buck sits with her mother, Emma Buck, on the grounds of the Virginia State Colony of Epileptics and Feeble-Minded in Madison Heights, near Lynchburg. This photograph was taken in November 1924 by Arthur H. Estabrook, a eugenics researcher who interviewed the two women before testifying in a legal case that resulted in the forced sterilization of Carrie Buck. Source.

In the early 1900s, eugenicists began to use persuasion to gain voluntary cooperation with their new way of thinking about human reproduction. In the United States, the strategy of persuasion was eventually replaced by a strategy of coercion and compulsion.

In 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the State of Virginias sterilization plan in Buck Versus Bell, which affirmed that it had the right to sterilize mentally deficient residents to prevent them from producing more of their kind. This decision opened the door to forced sterilization in many U.S. states.

At that time, eugenicists believed that human character and behavior was almost completely determined by the germplasm. In contemporary language, we would say everything is determined by ones genes. Eugenicists believed that every negative trait they observed in a person could be passed on to their descendants. For example, a person living in poverty is poor because of his genes, and unless sterilization is pursued, that person will create children who are destined for poverty. They admitted that sometimes defective germplasm might not be seen in every child conceived by defectives, but if it was present in one generation, then it will be permanently present in all succeeding generations, and will eventually reappear.

In the Buck vs. Bell decision of May 2, 1927, the United States Supreme Court upheld a Virginia statute that provided for the sterilization of people considered to be genetically unfit. The Courts decision, delivered by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., included the infamous phrase Three generations of imbeciles are enough. Upholding Virginias sterilization statute provided the green light for similar laws in 30 states, under which an estimated 65,000 Americans were sterilized without their own consent or that of a family member. [10]

A broken and twisted mound of emaciated corpses lay strewn in one of three open burial pits at the liberation of Belsen on 15 April 1945. British troops were faced with over 10 000 dead inmates who required immediate burial to halt the spread of typhus and other diseases. Belsen, one of many Nazi concentration camps of the German Third Reich, was used as an instrument of genocide against Jews and those of other nationalities and categories. Image source.

The belief that the state had the right to control human reproduction was taken to the extreme in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The Third Reich of Germany extinguished the lives of 6 million Jews, and 5 million other people who were deemed undesirable. Undesirables included Jews (from all levels of society), and people from various other groups. The other groups included outspoken Christians and their pastors who would not submit to Nazi ideology. Gypsies, homosexuals, mentally ill persons, people with low mental functioning, and people who were deaf, blind, crippled, and epileptics were all targeted for extermination. The list of inferiors included all people of Polish ethnicity, people in interracial marriages, and people with dark/African skin color. [11]

For the sake of expediency, extermination of defectives and inferior people was the final solution chosen by Hitler. Forced sterilization of eleven million people was not practical, and it would not remove the influence of such people from society. Extermination, however, would immediately stop reproduction of these people and also would allow their personal resources to be confiscated for the German war effort.

Of course, eugenic programs of the past and genetic programs of the present do not begin with mass scale slaughter of unwanted people as happened in Germany. They are marketed as benevolent programs that are designed to help people be happy and prosperous. They subtly condition people to believe that the Statehas a right to control every aspect of their reproduction for the sake of personal happiness.

This belief is then gradually expanded to show that the government has a similar right to control human reproduction for the sake of creating a happy and prosperous society. It progresses from voluntary programs to involuntary programs from cooperation to mandatory compliance. The techniques of the eugenics movement involve sterilization and death. The objective of preventing reproduction by undesirables was achieved by all means possible.

Each step in the implementation of an eugenics program desensitizes people to the value of human life. It leads people to accept the idea that some people are inferior and others are superior, because of their genetic makeup. It teaches people to give honor to certain people and to submit to a small group of super people who are considered to be the model race. It teaches people to accept sterilization and the killing of the minority to support the needs and goals of the majority. The proposed killing of children up to the age of 5 years old, for example, is an outgrowth of eugenic thinking, because in that mindset there is no hope for the defective children, and the best thing we can do for everyone is to simply eliminate them before they begin to drain society of its precious resources.

First the weakest and most helpless are targeted by eugenicists, and then certain undesirable people, who have bad genes, are marked for destruction. This type of population reduction is called systematic depopulation. Depopulation is also called genocide, which is the killing of large groups of people who share a common trait such as ethnic background or religious affiliation.

Eugenicists also will seek to destroy the family structure in order to accomplish their goals. The value and functioning of the family unit consisting of a husband/father, wife/mother and numerous children will be attacked on every front.

This is necessary to break the emotional bonds that tie family members together, and replace it with zealous allegiance to the state. Commitment to the power of the state must be stronger than love and commitment to family members so that defectives in the family can be sterilized or removed without a struggle.

The End Referring to the end of Catholic influence in the US. Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty 1926. Image Source.

There must also be a breaking of affection and commitment to God. Eugenics is incompatible with true religion. Eugenics and the power of the state must rule over people and not the God of the Bible.

Eugenicists understand that one can only serve one master, and their master must be the god and religion of Darwinian Evolution. The moral absolutes of conservative biblical Christianity stand in direct opposition to Darwins theory of evolution and the full implementation of eugenic techniques.

The belief that life is a gift from God, and should be cherished and preserved, is incompatible with the outworking of eugenics, which seeks to put life under the authority of a superior class of people and under the authority of the state.

Specifically, these are some of the methods that have been used to implement eugenics programs over the past hundred years. Please note how they start with encouragement and voluntary participation, and end up with involuntary means to control and reduce the population.

1. Convince superior human beings to produce more children. The fruit of this strategy would result in a rapid increase in the number of superior people and strengthen the superior bloodline. In Nazi Germany, breeding centers were established to produce large numbers of superior blond blue-eyed children. Most of these children were conceived outside of marriage and fathered by Nazi officers. [12]

2. Encourage inferior human beings to have fewer children, or discourage them from having children altogether. This would shrink undesirable bloodlines and weaken the possible influence on the superior bloodline.

3. Prevent people with certain inferior qualities from marrying superior people. This means to forbid inter-racial marriage, marriage between disabled and non-disabled people, and marriage of superior people with those of undesirable ethnic, religious, or economic position, because they would weaken the bloodline of the superior group.

4. Physically isolate severely deficient people from the greater society by institutionalizing them in the name of providing compassionate care or simply put them into containment camps. This will prevent them from marrying and reproducing.

5. Impose forced sterilization on feebleminded people, criminals, and on other incurable defectives such as alcoholics and paupers, so they cannot pass on their undesirable flaws to another generation.

6. Give people a low cost or no cost opportunity to use contraceptives and/or to choose pre-birth abortion to prevent the birth of disabled children and to prevent babies from being born into poverty.

7. Terminate the lives of defective children and defective elderly adults who are not able to contribute to the greater good of society, or who threaten the economic status of those who have been declared the superior race. Use genetic screening for babies in the womb and abort those who have defective genes.

8. Implement programs that will weaken the reproductive capacity of the population. Vaccines, pesticides, GMO food, highly processed food, antibiotics and other drugs, etc. all are known to have a negative influence on fertility. [13] (Those who are aware of these influences can avoid exposure and protect their fertility.)

9. Implement economic programs that will decrease the buying power of low-income persons, which will place increasing financial pressure on low-income working families, so that they will choose to limit the number of children they produce. [14]

10. Contain or exterminate anyone who resists the use of eugenics and who would threaten the development of the superior human bloodline.

War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg. Adolf Hitlers personal physician, 43-year old Karl Brandt. Brandt was also Reich Commissar for Health and Sanitation, and was indicted by the U.S. prosecution with 22 other Nazi doctors. Brandt was found guilty of participating in and consenting to using concentration camp inmates as guinea pigs in horrible medical experiments, supposedly for the benefit of the armed forces. He was sentenced to death by hanging. Image Source.

This question is the key to understanding eugenics. It is also the key for uncovering the deceptions and lies that are used to justify eugenics as a socially advanced way of managing society.

Adolf Hitler and his colleagues decided that it was the Nordic or Aryan bloodlines that were superior to all other bloodlines on the Earth. Thus, Adolf Hitler and others like him were to become the superior bloodline. Those with similar physical characteristics/appearance, emotional functioning, and mental capacities, and those who possessed certain ideological convictions were to become archetypes of humanity. They were to be raised up above all other people and others were to be brought into subjection to them.

Hitler found that the most efficient method of preventing reproduction and discontinuing the negative influence on the Aryan bloodline was to terminate the lives of undesirables. These were the people who threatened the racial superiority of the leaders of the German Third Reich and threatened their economic prosperity and social happiness. Eugenicists always seek to protect their own race, their own ethnic group, their own religion (which is now called Social Darwinism), and their own economic prosperity regardless of the country where they live.

In the view of the German leaders of the Third Reich, even inferiors in their own Aryan race needed to be purged from the bloodline. They saw the Darwinian struggle for survival of the fittest in the context of the German war effort. War was a positive force for bloodline purification, not only because it eliminated the weaker races which they were attacking, but also because it weeded out the weaker members of their own Aryan race. Hitler was convinced that the strongest people would survive. Nazi Germany, partly for this reason, openly glorified war because it was an important means of eliminating the less fit of the highest race, a step necessary to upgrade the Aryan race. [16]

U.S. Battleships in Pearl Harbor bombed by Japanese Aircraft. Image source.

While Hitlers eugenic program was in full force, a similar program was underway in Japan. The Japanese were actively involved in building up and maintaining a pure Japanese bloodline. They were influenced by American eugenicists and used many of the same techniques that were being used by Hitler. They were trying to keep the Japanese bloodline pure for the same reasons other eugenicists named. [17]

The eugenics programs of Germany and Japan shared several similarities. Both believed that there was a superior race (bloodline) and that bloodline must be preserved to strengthen the power of the state and to preserve the prosperity of society.

Of course, the Germans and the Japanese differed on the matter of which race was to be superior. They both believed that their respective race deserved, and was destined, to dominate the world. They were in agreement that active steps must be taken by government to purify the population, and to prevent superior pure-blooded people from intermarrying with inferior people groups. However, they obviously were in disagreement about which bloodline was superior. Should it be Oriental/Japanese blood or Caucasian/German blood?

The massive extermination of human life by the Third Reich of Germany cast a dark shadow over eugenics, and people tried to distance themselves from the word eugenics. However, the movement did not die with the death of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Neither did the eugenics movement die when the word eugenics became unfashionable.

There were several decades of transition during which the language of eugenics was transformed into the new language of human genetics.

After the horrors of Hitlers eugenics program were brought to light, eugenicists realized that they needed to change their tactics. In 1947 the remnant board of directors of the American Eugenics Society (AES) unanimously agreed, The time was not right for aggressive eugenic propaganda. Instead, the AES continued quietly soliciting financial grants from such organizations as the Dodge Foundation, the Rockefeller-funded Population Council, and the Draper Fund for the purpose of proliferating genetics as a legitimate study of human heredity. [18]

In 1959, the leaders of the American Eugenics Society understood that reestablishing eugenics was an uphill battle. A draft address written by the president of the American Eugenics Society, Frederick Osborn, confirmed this when he prepared to speak to his Board of Directors. He outlined the future of eugenics, which included an ambitious campaign of behind-the-scenes genetic counseling, birth control, and university-based medical genetic programs. At the same time, President Osborn conceded that the movements history was too scurrilous to gain public support. [19]

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Eugenics in the United States Today: Are We on the Same …

Eugenics – Wikipedia

Eugenics (; from Greek eugenes ‘well-born’ from eu, ‘good, well’ and genos, ‘race, stock, kin’)[2][3] is a set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of a human population.[4][5] The exact definition of eugenics has been a matter of debate since the term was coined by Francis Galton in 1883. The concept predates this coinage, with Plato suggesting applying the principles of selective breeding to humans around 400BCE.

Frederick Osborn’s 1937 journal article “Development of a Eugenic Philosophy”[6] framed it as a social philosophythat is, a philosophy with implications for social order. That definition is not universally accepted. Osborn advocated for higher rates of sexual reproduction among people with desired traits (positive eugenics), or reduced rates of sexual reproduction and sterilization of people with less-desired or undesired traits (negative eugenics).

Alternatively, gene selection rather than “people selection” has recently been made possible through advances in genome editing,[7] leading to what is sometimes called new eugenics, also known as neo-eugenics, consumer eugenics, or liberal eugenics.

While eugenic principles have been practiced as far back in world history as ancient Greece, the modern history of eugenics began in the early 20th century when a popular eugenics movement emerged in the United Kingdom[8] and spread to many countries including the United States, Canada[9] and most European countries. In this period, eugenic ideas were espoused across the political spectrum. Consequently, many countries adopted eugenic policies with the intent to improve the quality of their populations’ genetic stock. Such programs included both “positive” measures, such as encouraging individuals deemed particularly “fit” to reproduce, and “negative” measures such as marriage prohibitions and forced sterilization of people deemed unfit for reproduction. People deemed unfit to reproduce often included people with mental or physical disabilities, people who scored in the low ranges of different IQ tests, criminals and deviants, and members of disfavored minority groups. The eugenics movement became negatively associated with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust when many of the defendants at the Nuremberg trials attempted to justify their human rights abuses by claiming there was little difference between the Nazi eugenics programs and the U.S. eugenics programs.[10] In the decades following World War II, with the institution of human rights, many countries gradually began to abandon eugenics policies, although some Western countries, among them the United States and Sweden, continued to carry out forced sterilizations.

Since the 1980s and 1990s, when new assisted reproductive technology procedures became available such as gestational surrogacy (available since 1985), preimplantation genetic diagnosis (available since 1989), and cytoplasmic transfer (first performed in 1996), fear has emerged about a possible revival of eugenics.

A major criticism of eugenics policies is that, regardless of whether “negative” or “positive” policies are used, they are susceptible to abuse because the criteria of selection are determined by whichever group is in political power at the time. Furthermore, negative eugenics in particular is considered by many to be a violation of basic human rights, which include the right to reproduction. Another criticism is that eugenic policies eventually lead to a loss of genetic diversity, resulting in inbreeding depression due to lower genetic variation.

Seneca the Younger

The concept of positive eugenics to produce better human beings has existed at least since Plato suggested selective mating to produce a guardian class.[12] In Sparta, every Spartan child was inspected by the council of elders, the Gerousia, which determined if the child was fit to live or not. In the early years of ancient Rome, a Roman father was obliged by law to immediately kill his child if they were physically disabled.[13] Among the ancient Germanic tribes, people who were cowardly, unwarlike or “stained with abominable vices” were put to death, usually by being drowned in swamps.[14][15]

The first formal negative eugenics, that is a legal provision against the birth of allegedly inferior human beings, was promulgated in Western European culture by the Christian Council of Agde in 506, which forbade marriage between cousins.[16]

This idea was also promoted by William Goodell (18291894) who advocated the castration and spaying of the insane.[17][18]

The idea of a modern project of improving the human population through a statistical understanding of heredity used to encourage good breeding was originally developed by Francis Galton and, initially, was closely linked to Darwinism and his theory of natural selection.[20] Galton had read his half-cousin Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which sought to explain the development of plant and animal species, and desired to apply it to humans. Based on his biographical studies, Galton believed that desirable human qualities were hereditary traits, though Darwin strongly disagreed with this elaboration of his theory.[21] In 1883, one year after Darwin’s death, Galton gave his research a name: eugenics.[22] With the introduction of genetics, eugenics became associated with genetic determinism, the belief that human character is entirely or in the majority caused by genes, unaffected by education or living conditions. Many of the early geneticists were not Darwinians, and evolution theory was not needed for eugenics policies based on genetic determinism.[20] Throughout its recent history, eugenics has remained controversial.

Eugenics became an academic discipline at many colleges and universities and received funding from many sources.[24] Organizations were formed to win public support and sway opinion towards responsible eugenic values in parenthood, including the British Eugenics Education Society of 1907 and the American Eugenics Society of 1921. Both sought support from leading clergymen and modified their message to meet religious ideals.[25] In 1909 the Anglican clergymen William Inge and James Peile both wrote for the British Eugenics Education Society. Inge was an invited speaker at the 1921 International Eugenics Conference, which was also endorsed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York Patrick Joseph Hayes.[25]

Three International Eugenics Conferences presented a global venue for eugenists with meetings in 1912 in London, and in 1921 and 1932 in New York City. Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United States.[26] It also took root in France, Germany, and Great Britain.[27] Later, in the 1920s and 1930s, the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in other countries including Belgium,[28] Brazil,[29] Canada,[30] Japan and Sweden.

In addition to being practiced in a number of countries, eugenics was internationally organized through the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations. Its scientific aspects were carried on through research bodies such as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, the Cold Spring Harbour Carnegie Institution for Experimental Evolution, and the Eugenics Record Office. Politically, the movement advocated measures such as sterilization laws. In its moral dimension, eugenics rejected the doctrine that all human beings are born equal and redefined moral worth purely in terms of genetic fitness. Its racist elements included pursuit of a pure “Nordic race” or “Aryan” genetic pool and the eventual elimination of “unfit” races.

Early critics of the philosophy of eugenics included the American sociologist Lester Frank Ward,[39] the English writer G. K. Chesterton, the German-American anthropologist Franz Boas, who argued that advocates of eugenics greatly over-estimate the influence of biology,[40] and Scottish tuberculosis pioneer and author Halliday Sutherland. Ward’s 1913 article “Eugenics, Euthenics, and Eudemics”, Chesterton’s 1917 book Eugenics and Other Evils, and Boas’ 1916 article “Eugenics” (published in The Scientific Monthly) were all harshly critical of the rapidly growing movement. Sutherland identified eugenists as a major obstacle to the eradication and cure of tuberculosis in his 1917 address “Consumption: Its Cause and Cure”,[41] and criticism of eugenists and Neo-Malthusians in his 1921 book Birth Control led to a writ for libel from the eugenist Marie Stopes. Several biologists were also antagonistic to the eugenics movement, including Lancelot Hogben.[42] Other biologists such as J. B. S. Haldane and R. A. Fisher expressed skepticism in the belief that sterilization of “defectives” would lead to the disappearance of undesirable genetic traits.[43]

Among institutions, the Catholic Church was an opponent of state-enforced sterilizations.[44] Attempts by the Eugenics Education Society to persuade the British government to legalize voluntary sterilization were opposed by Catholics and by the Labour Party.[45] The American Eugenics Society initially gained some Catholic supporters, but Catholic support declined following the 1930 papal encyclical Casti connubii.[25] In this, Pope Pius XI explicitly condemned sterilization laws: “Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason.”[46]

As a social movement, eugenics reached its greatest popularity in the early decades of the 20th century, when it was practiced around the world and promoted by governments, institutions, and influential individuals. Many countries enacted[47] various eugenics policies, including: genetic screenings, birth control, promoting differential birth rates, marriage restrictions, segregation (both racial segregation and sequestering the mentally ill), compulsory sterilization, forced abortions or forced pregnancies, ultimately culminating in genocide.

The scientific reputation of eugenics started to decline in the 1930s, a time when Ernst Rdin used eugenics as a justification for the racial policies of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler had praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf in 1925 and emulated eugenic legislation for the sterilization of “defectives” that had been pioneered in the United States once he took power. Some common early 20th century eugenics methods involved identifying and classifying individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, promiscuous women, homosexuals, and racial groups (such as the Roma and Jews in Nazi Germany) as “degenerate” or “unfit”, and therefore led to segregation, institutionalization, sterilization, euthanasia, and even mass murder. The Nazi practice of euthanasia was carried out on hospital patients in the Aktion T4 centers such as Hartheim Castle.

By the end of World War II, many discriminatory eugenics laws were abandoned, having become associated with Nazi Germany.[50] H. G. Wells, who had called for “the sterilization of failures” in 1904,[51] stated in his 1940 book The Rights of Man: Or What are we fighting for? that among the human rights, which he believed should be available to all people, was “a prohibition on mutilation, sterilization, torture, and any bodily punishment”.[52] After World War II, the practice of “imposing measures intended to prevent births within [a national, ethnical, racial or religious] group” fell within the definition of the new international crime of genocide, set out in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.[53] The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union also proclaims “the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at selection of persons”.[54] In spite of the decline in discriminatory eugenics laws, some government mandated sterilizations continued into the 21st century. During the ten years President Alberto Fujimori led Peru from 1990 to 2000, 2,000 persons were allegedly involuntarily sterilized.[55] China maintained its one-child policy until 2015 as well as a suite of other eugenics based legislation to reduce population size and manage fertility rates of different populations.[56][57][58] In 2007 the United Nations reported coercive sterilizations and hysterectomies in Uzbekistan.[59] During the years 2005 to 2013, nearly one-third of the 144 California prison inmates who were sterilized did not give lawful consent to the operation.[60]

Developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised numerous questions regarding the ethical status of eugenics, effectively creating a resurgence of interest in the subject.Some, such as UC Berkeley sociologist Troy Duster, claim that modern genetics is a back door to eugenics.[61] This view is shared by White House Assistant Director for Forensic Sciences, Tania Simoncelli, who stated in a 2003 publication by the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College that advances in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) are moving society to a “new era of eugenics”, and that, unlike the Nazi eugenics, modern eugenics is consumer driven and market based, “where children are increasingly regarded as made-to-order consumer products”.[62] In a 2006 newspaper article, Richard Dawkins said that discussion regarding eugenics was inhibited by the shadow of Nazi misuse, to the extent that some scientists would not admit that breeding humans for certain abilities is at all possible. He believes that it is not physically different from breeding domestic animals for traits such as speed or herding skill. Dawkins felt that enough time had elapsed to at least ask just what the ethical differences were between breeding for ability versus training athletes or forcing children to take music lessons, though he could think of persuasive reasons to draw the distinction.[63]

Lee Kuan Yew, the Founding Father of Singapore, started promoting eugenics as early as 1983.[64][65]

In October 2015, the United Nations’ International Bioethics Committee wrote that the ethical problems of human genetic engineering should not be confused with the ethical problems of the 20th century eugenics movements. However, it is still problematic because it challenges the idea of human equality and opens up new forms of discrimination and stigmatization for those who do not want, or cannot afford, the technology.[66]

Transhumanism is often associated with eugenics, although most transhumanists holding similar views nonetheless distance themselves from the term “eugenics” (preferring “germinal choice” or “reprogenetics”)[67] to avoid having their position confused with the discredited theories and practices of early-20th-century eugenic movements.

Prenatal screening can be considered a form of contemporary eugenics because it may lead to abortions of children with undesirable traits.[68]

The term eugenics and its modern field of study were first formulated by Francis Galton in 1883,[69] drawing on the recent work of his half-cousin Charles Darwin.[70][71] Galton published his observations and conclusions in his book Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development.

The origins of the concept began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance and the theories of August Weismann. The word eugenics is derived from the Greek word eu (“good” or “well”) and the suffix -gens (“born”), and was coined by Galton in 1883 to replace the word “stirpiculture”, which he had used previously but which had come to be mocked due to its perceived sexual overtones.[73] Galton defined eugenics as “the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations”.[74]

Historically, the term eugenics has referred to everything from prenatal care for mothers to forced sterilization and euthanasia.[75] To population geneticists, the term has included the avoidance of inbreeding without altering allele frequencies; for example, J. B. S. Haldane wrote that “the motor bus, by breaking up inbred village communities, was a powerful eugenic agent.”[76] Debate as to what exactly counts as eugenics continues today.[77]

Edwin Black, journalist and author of War Against the Weak, claims eugenics is often deemed a pseudoscience because what is defined as a genetic improvement of a desired trait is often deemed a cultural choice rather than a matter that can be determined through objective scientific inquiry.[78] The most disputed aspect of eugenics has been the definition of “improvement” of the human gene pool, such as what is a beneficial characteristic and what is a defect. Historically, this aspect of eugenics was tainted with scientific racism and pseudoscience.[79][80][81]

Early eugenists were mostly concerned with factors of perceived intelligence that often correlated strongly with social class. Some of these early eugenists include Karl Pearson and Walter Weldon, who worked on this at the University College London.[21]

Eugenics also had a place in medicine. In his lecture “Darwinism, Medical Progress and Eugenics”, Karl Pearson said that everything concerning eugenics fell into the field of medicine. He basically placed the two words as equivalents. He was supported in part by the fact that Francis Galton, the father of eugenics, also had medical training.[82]

Eugenic policies have been conceptually divided into two categories.[75] Positive eugenics is aimed at encouraging reproduction among the genetically advantaged; for example, the reproduction of the intelligent, the healthy, and the successful. Possible approaches include financial and political stimuli, targeted demographic analyses, in vitro fertilization, egg transplants, and cloning.[83] The movie Gattaca provides a fictional example of a dystopian society that uses eugenics to decided what you are capable of and your place in the world. Negative eugenics aimed to eliminate, through sterilization or segregation, those deemed physically, mentally, or morally “undesirable”. This includes abortions, sterilization, and other methods of family planning.[83] Both positive and negative eugenics can be coercive; abortion for fit women, for example, was illegal in Nazi Germany.[84]

Jon Entine claims that eugenics simply means “good genes” and using it as synonym for genocide is an “all-too-common distortion of the social history of genetics policy in the United States.” According to Entine, eugenics developed out of the Progressive Era and not “Hitler’s twisted Final Solution”.[85]

According to Richard Lynn, eugenics may be divided into two main categories based on the ways in which the methods of eugenics can be applied.[86]

The first major challenge to conventional eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was made in 1915 by Thomas Hunt Morgan. He demonstrated the event of genetic mutation occurring outside of inheritance involving the discovery of the hatching of a fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) with white eyes from a family with red eyes. Morgan claimed that this demonstrated that major genetic changes occurred outside of inheritance and that the concept of eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was not completely scientifically accurate. Additionally, Morgan criticized the view that subjective traits, such as intelligence and criminality, were caused by heredity because he believed that the definitions of these traits varied and that accurate work in genetics could only be done when the traits being studied were accurately defined.[123] Despite Morgan’s public rejection of eugenics, much of his genetic research was absorbed by eugenics.[124][125]

The heterozygote test is used for the early detection of recessive hereditary diseases, allowing for couples to determine if they are at risk of passing genetic defects to a future child.[126] The goal of the test is to estimate the likelihood of passing the hereditary disease to future descendants.[126]

Recessive traits can be severely reduced, but never eliminated unless the complete genetic makeup of all members of the pool was known, as aforementioned. As only very few undesirable traits, such as Huntington’s disease, are dominant, it could be argued[by whom?] from certain perspectives that the practicality of “eliminating” traits is quite low.[citation needed]

There are examples of eugenic acts that managed to lower the prevalence of recessive diseases, although not influencing the prevalence of heterozygote carriers of those diseases. The elevated prevalence of certain genetically transmitted diseases among the Ashkenazi Jewish population (TaySachs, cystic fibrosis, Canavan’s disease, and Gaucher’s disease), has been decreased in current populations by the application of genetic screening.[127]

Pleiotropy occurs when one gene influences multiple, seemingly unrelated phenotypic traits, an example being phenylketonuria, which is a human disease that affects multiple systems but is caused by one gene defect.[128] Andrzej Pkalski, from the University of Wrocaw, argues that eugenics can cause harmful loss of genetic diversity if a eugenics program selects a pleiotropic gene that could possibly be associated with a positive trait. Pekalski uses the example of a coercive government eugenics program that prohibits people with myopia from breeding but has the unintended consequence of also selecting against high intelligence since the two go together.[129]

Eugenic policies could also lead to loss of genetic diversity, in which case a culturally accepted “improvement” of the gene pool could very likelyas evidenced in numerous instances in isolated island populations result in extinction due to increased vulnerability to disease, reduced ability to adapt to environmental change, and other factors both known and unknown. A long-term, species-wide eugenics plan might lead to a scenario similar to this because the elimination of traits deemed undesirable would reduce genetic diversity by definition.[130]

Edward M. Miller claims that, in any one generation, any realistic program should make only minor changes in a fraction of the gene pool, giving plenty of time to reverse direction if unintended consequences emerge, reducing the likelihood of the elimination of desirable genes.[131] Miller also argues that any appreciable reduction in diversity is so far in the future that little concern is needed for now.[131]

While the science of genetics has increasingly provided means by which certain characteristics and conditions can be identified and understood, given the complexity of human genetics, culture, and psychology, at this point no agreed objective means of determining which traits might be ultimately desirable or undesirable. Some diseases such as sickle-cell disease and cystic fibrosis respectively confer immunity to malaria and resistance to cholera when a single copy of the recessive allele is contained within the genotype of the individual. Reducing the instance of sickle-cell disease genes in Africa where malaria is a common and deadly disease could indeed have extremely negative net consequences.

However, some genetic diseases cause people to consider some elements of eugenics.

Societal and political consequences of eugenics call for a place in the discussion on the ethics behind the eugenics movement.[132] Many of the ethical concerns regarding eugenics arise from its controversial past, prompting a discussion on what place, if any, it should have in the future. Advances in science have changed eugenics. In the past, eugenics had more to do with sterilization and enforced reproduction laws.[133] Now, in the age of a progressively mapped genome, embryos can be tested for susceptibility to disease, gender, and genetic defects, and alternative methods of reproduction such as in vitro fertilization are becoming more common.[134] Therefore, eugenics is no longer ex post facto regulation of the living but instead preemptive action on the unborn.[135]

With this change, however, there are ethical concerns which lack adequate attention, and which must be addressed before eugenic policies can be properly implemented in the future. Sterilized individuals, for example, could volunteer for the procedure, albeit under incentive or duress, or at least voice their opinion. The unborn fetus on which these new eugenic procedures are performed cannot speak out, as the fetus lacks the voice to consent or to express his or her opinion.[136] Philosophers disagree about the proper framework for reasoning about such actions, which change the very identity and existence of future persons.[137]

A common criticism of eugenics is that “it inevitably leads to measures that are unethical”.[138] Some fear future “eugenics wars” as the worst-case scenario: the return of coercive state-sponsored genetic discrimination and human rights violations such as compulsory sterilization of persons with genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, specifically, segregation and genocide of races perceived as inferior.[139] Health law professor George Annas and technology law professor Lori Andrews are prominent advocates of the position that the use of these technologies could lead to such human-posthuman caste warfare.[140][141]

In his 2003 book Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, environmental ethicist Bill McKibben argued at length against germinal choice technology and other advanced biotechnological strategies for human enhancement. He writes that it would be morally wrong for humans to tamper with fundamental aspects of themselves (or their children) in an attempt to overcome universal human limitations, such as vulnerability to aging, maximum life span and biological constraints on physical and cognitive ability. Attempts to “improve” themselves through such manipulation would remove limitations that provide a necessary context for the experience of meaningful human choice. He claims that human lives would no longer seem meaningful in a world where such limitations could be overcome with technology. Even the goal of using germinal choice technology for clearly therapeutic purposes should be relinquished, since it would inevitably produce temptations to tamper with such things as cognitive capacities. He argues that it is possible for societies to benefit from renouncing particular technologies, using as examples Ming China, Tokugawa Japan and the contemporary Amish.[142]

Some, for example Nathaniel C. Comfort from Johns Hopkins University, claim that the change from state-led reproductive-genetic decision-making to individual choice has moderated the worst abuses of eugenics by transferring the decision-making from the state to the patient and their family.[143] Comfort suggests that “the eugenic impulse drives us to eliminate disease, live longer and healthier, with greater intelligence, and a better adjustment to the conditions of society; and the health benefits, the intellectual thrill and the profits of genetic bio-medicine are too great for us to do otherwise.”[144] Others, such as bioethicist Stephen Wilkinson of Keele University and Honorary Research Fellow Eve Garrard at the University of Manchester, claim that some aspects of modern genetics can be classified as eugenics, but that this classification does not inherently make modern genetics immoral. In a co-authored publication by Keele University, they stated that “[e]ugenics doesn’t seem always to be immoral, and so the fact that PGD, and other forms of selective reproduction, might sometimes technically be eugenic, isn’t sufficient to show that they’re wrong.”[145]

In their book published in 2000, From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice, bioethicists Allen Buchanan, Dan Brock, Norman Daniels and Daniel Wikler argued that liberal societies have an obligation to encourage as wide an adoption of eugenic enhancement technologies as possible (so long as such policies do not infringe on individuals’ reproductive rights or exert undue pressures on prospective parents to use these technologies) in order to maximize public health and minimize the inequalities that may result from both natural genetic endowments and unequal access to genetic enhancements.[146]

Original position, a hypothetical situation developed by American philosopher John Rawls, has been used as an argument for negative eugenics.[147][148]

Notes

Bibliography

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Eugenics – Wikipedia

eugenics | Description, History, & Modern Eugenics …

Eugenics, the selection of desired heritable characteristics in order to improve future generations, typically in reference to humans. The term eugenics was coined in 1883 by British explorer and natural scientist Francis Galton, who, influenced by Charles Darwins theory of natural selection, advocated a system that would allow the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable. Social Darwinism, the popular theory in the late 19th century that life for humans in society was ruled by survival of the fittest, helped advance eugenics into serious scientific study in the early 1900s. By World War I many scientific authorities and political leaders supported eugenics. However, it ultimately failed as a science in the 1930s and 40s, when the assumptions of eugenicists became heavily criticized and the Nazis used eugenics to support the extermination of entire races.

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biological determinism: The eugenics movement

One of the most prominent movements to apply genetics to understanding social and personality traits was the eugenics movement, which originated in the late 19th century. Eugenics was coined in 1883 by British explorer and naturalist Francis Galton, who was influenced by the

Although eugenics as understood today dates from the late 19th century, efforts to select matings in order to secure offspring with desirable traits date from ancient times. Platos Republic (c. 378 bce) depicts a society where efforts are undertaken to improve human beings through selective breeding. Later, Italian philosopher and poet Tommaso Campanella, in City of the Sun (1623), described a utopian community in which only the socially elite are allowed to procreate. Galton, in Hereditary Genius (1869), proposed that a system of arranged marriages between men of distinction and women of wealth would eventually produce a gifted race. In 1865 the basic laws of heredity were discovered by the father of modern genetics, Gregor Mendel. His experiments with peas demonstrated that each physical trait was the result of a combination of two units (now known as genes) and could be passed from one generation to another. However, his work was largely ignored until its rediscovery in 1900. This fundamental knowledge of heredity provided eugenicistsincluding Galton, who influenced his cousin Charles Darwinwith scientific evidence to support the improvement of humans through selective breeding.

The advancement of eugenics was concurrent with an increasing appreciation of Darwins account for change or evolution within societywhat contemporaries referred to as social Darwinism. Darwin had concluded his explanations of evolution by arguing that the greatest step humans could make in their own history would occur when they realized that they were not completely guided by instinct. Rather, humans, through selective reproduction, had the ability to control their own future evolution. A language pertaining to reproduction and eugenics developed, leading to terms such as positive eugenics, defined as promoting the proliferation of good stock, and negative eugenics, defined as prohibiting marriage and breeding between defective stock. For eugenicists, nature was far more contributory than nurture in shaping humanity.

During the early 1900s eugenics became a serious scientific study pursued by both biologists and social scientists. They sought to determine the extent to which human characteristics of social importance were inherited. Among their greatest concerns were the predictability of intelligence and certain deviant behaviours. Eugenics, however, was not confined to scientific laboratories and academic institutions. It began to pervade cultural thought around the globe, including the Scandinavian countries, most other European countries, North America, Latin America, Japan, China, and Russia. In the United States the eugenics movement began during the Progressive Era and remained active through 1940. It gained considerable support from leading scientific authorities such as zoologist Charles B. Davenport, plant geneticist Edward M. East, and geneticist and Nobel Prize laureate Hermann J. Muller. Political leaders in favour of eugenics included U.S. Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, Secretary of State Elihu Root, and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall Harlan. Internationally, there were many individuals whose work supported eugenic aims, including British scientists J.B.S. Haldane and Julian Huxley and Russian scientists Nikolay K. Koltsov and Yury A. Filipchenko.

Galton had endowed a research fellowship in eugenics in 1904 and, in his will, provided funds for a chair of eugenics at University College, London. The fellowship and later the chair were occupied by Karl Pearson, a brilliant mathematician who helped to create the science of biometry, the statistical aspects of biology. Pearson was a controversial figure who believed that environment had little to do with the development of mental or emotional qualities. He felt that the high birth rate of the poor was a threat to civilization and that the higher races must supplant the lower. His views gave countenance to those who believed in racial and class superiority. Thus, Pearson shares the blame for the discredit later brought on eugenics.

In the United States, the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) was opened at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York, in 1910 with financial support from the legacy of railroad magnate Edward Henry Harriman. Whereas ERO efforts were officially overseen by Charles B. Davenport, director of the Station for Experimental Study of Evolution (one of the biology research stations at Cold Spring Harbor), ERO activities were directly superintended by Harry H. Laughlin, a professor from Kirksville, Missouri. The ERO was organized around a series of missions. These missions included serving as the national repository and clearinghouse for eugenics information, compiling an index of traits in American families, training fieldworkers to gather data throughout the United States, supporting investigations into the inheritance patterns of particular human traits and diseases, advising on the eugenic fitness of proposed marriages, and communicating all eugenic findings through a series of publications. To accomplish these goals, further funding was secured from the Carnegie Institution of Washington, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the Battle Creek Race Betterment Foundation, and the Human Betterment Foundation.

Prior to the founding of the ERO, eugenics work in the United States was overseen by a standing committee of the American Breeders Association (eugenics section established in 1906), chaired by ichthyologist and Stanford University president David Starr Jordan. Research from around the globe was featured at three international congresses, held in 1912, 1921, and 1932. In addition, eugenics education was monitored in Britain by the English Eugenics Society (founded by Galton in 1907 as the Eugenics Education Society) and in the United States by the American Eugenics Society.

Following World War I, the United States gained status as a world power. A concomitant fear arose that if the healthy stock of the American people became diluted with socially undesirable traits, the countrys political and economic strength would begin to crumble. The maintenance of world peace by fostering democracy, capitalism, and, at times, eugenics-based schemes was central to the activities of the Internationalists, a group of prominent American leaders in business, education, publishing, and government. One core member of this group, the New York lawyer Madison Grant, aroused considerable pro-eugenic interest through his best-selling book The Passing of the Great Race (1916). Beginning in 1920, a series of congressional hearings was held to identify problems that immigrants were causing the United States. As the countrys eugenics expert, Harry Laughlin provided tabulations showing that certain immigrants, particularly those from Italy, Greece, and Eastern Europe, were significantly overrepresented in American prisons and institutions for the feebleminded. Further data were construed to suggest that these groups were contributing too many genetically and socially inferior people. Laughlins classification of these individuals included the feebleminded, the insane, the criminalistic, the epileptic, the inebriate, the diseasedincluding those with tuberculosis, leprosy, and syphilisthe blind, the deaf, the deformed, the dependent, chronic recipients of charity, paupers, and neer-do-wells. Racial overtones also pervaded much of the British and American eugenics literature. In 1923 Laughlin was sent by the U.S. secretary of labour as an immigration agent to Europe to investigate the chief emigrant-exporting nations. Laughlin sought to determine the feasibility of a plan whereby every prospective immigrant would be interviewed before embarking to the United States. He provided testimony before Congress that ultimately led to a new immigration law in 1924 that severely restricted the annual immigration of individuals from countries previously claimed to have contributed excessively to the dilution of American good stock.

Immigration control was but one method to control eugenically the reproductive stock of a country. Laughlin appeared at the centre of other U.S. efforts to provide eugenicists greater reproductive control over the nation. He approached state legislators with a model law to control the reproduction of institutionalized populations. By 1920, two years before the publication of Laughlins influential Eugenical Sterilization in the United States (1922), 3,200 individuals across the country were reported to have been involuntarily sterilized. That number tripled by 1929, and by 1938 more than 30,000 people were claimed to have met this fate. More than half of the states adopted Laughlins law, with California, Virginia, and Michigan leading the sterilization campaign. Laughlins efforts secured staunch judicial support in 1927. In the precedent-setting case of Buck v. Bell, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., upheld the Virginia statute and claimed, It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.

During the 1930s eugenics gained considerable popular support across the United States. Hygiene courses in public schools and eugenics courses in colleges spread eugenic-minded values to many. A eugenics exhibit titled Pedigree-Study in Man was featured at the Chicago Worlds Fair in 193334. Consistent with the fairs Century of Progress theme, stations were organized around efforts to show how favourable traits in the human population could best be perpetuated. Contrasts were drawn between the emulative presidential Roosevelt family and the degenerate Ishmael family (one of several pseudonymous family names used, the rationale for which was not given). By studying the passage of ancestral traits, fairgoers were urged to adopt the progressive view that responsible individuals should pursue marriage ever mindful of eugenics principles. Booths were set up at county and state fairs promoting fitter families contests, and medals were awarded to eugenically sound families. Drawing again upon long-standing eugenic practices in agriculture, popular eugenic advertisements claimed it was about time that humans received the same attention in the breeding of better babies that had been given to livestock and crops for centuries.

Anti-eugenics sentiment began to appear after 1910 and intensified during the 1930s. Most commonly it was based on religious grounds. For example, the 1930 papal encyclical Casti connubii condemned reproductive sterilization, though it did not specifically prohibit positive eugenic attempts to amplify the inheritance of beneficial traits. Many Protestant writings sought to reconcile age-old Christian warnings about the heritable sins of the father to pro-eugenic ideals. Indeed, most of the religion-based popular writings of the period supported positive means of improving the physical and moral makeup of humanity.

In the early 1930s Nazi Germany adopted American measures to identify and selectively reduce the presence of those deemed to be socially inferior through involuntary sterilization. A rhetoric of positive eugenics in the building of a master race pervaded Rassenhygiene (racial hygiene) movements. When Germany extended its practices far beyond sterilization in efforts to eliminate the Jewish and other non-Aryan populations, the United States became increasingly concerned over its own support of eugenics. Many scientists, physicians, and political leaders began to denounce the work of the ERO publicly. After considerable reflection, the Carnegie Institution formally closed the ERO at the end of 1939.

During the aftermath of World War II, eugenics became stigmatized such that many individuals who had once hailed it as a science now spoke disparagingly of it as a failed pseudoscience. Eugenics was dropped from organization and publication names. In 1954 Britains Annals of Eugenics was renamed Annals of Human Genetics. In 1972 the American Eugenics Society adopted the less-offensive name Society for the Study of Social Biology. Its publication, once popularly known as the Eugenics Quarterly, had already been renamed Social Biology in 1969.

U.S. Senate hearings in 1973, chaired by Sen. Ted Kennedy, revealed that thousands of U.S. citizens had been sterilized under federally supported programs. The U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare proposed guidelines encouraging each state to repeal their respective sterilization laws. Other countries, most notably China, continue to support eugenics-directed programs openly in order to ensure the genetic makeup of their future.

Despite the dropping of the term eugenics, eugenic ideas remained prevalent in many issues surrounding human reproduction. Medical genetics, a post-World War II medical specialty, encompasses a wide range of health concerns, from genetic screening and counseling to fetal gene manipulation and the treatment of adults suffering from hereditary disorders. Because certain diseases (e.g., hemophilia and Tay-Sachs disease) are now known to be genetically transmitted, many couples choose to undergo genetic screening, in which they learn the chances that their offspring have of being affected by some combination of their hereditary backgrounds. Couples at risk of passing on genetic defects may opt to remain childless or to adopt children. Furthermore, it is now possible to diagnose certain genetic defects in the unborn. Many couples choose to terminate a pregnancy that involves a genetically disabled offspring. These developments have reinforced the eugenic aim of identifying and eliminating undesirable genetic material.

Counterbalancing this trend, however, has been medical progress that enables victims of many genetic diseases to live fairly normal lives. Direct manipulation of harmful genes is also being studied. If perfected, it could obviate eugenic arguments for restricting reproduction among those who carry harmful genes. Such conflicting innovations have complicated the controversy surrounding what many call the new eugenics. Moreover, suggestions for expanding eugenics programs, which range from the creation of sperm banks for the genetically superior to the potential cloning of human beings, have met with vigorous resistance from the public, which often views such programs as unwarranted interference with nature or as opportunities for abuse by authoritarian regimes.

Applications of the Human Genome Project are often referred to as Brave New World genetics or the new eugenics, in part because they have helped to dramatically increase knowledge of human genetics. In addition, 21st-century technologies such as gene editing, which can potentially be used to treat disease or to alter traits, have further renewed concerns. However, the ethical, legal, and social implications of such tools are monitored much more closely than were early 20th-century eugenics programs. Applications generally are more focused on the reduction of genetic diseases than on improving intelligence.

Still, with or without the use of the term, many eugenics-related concerns are reemerging as a new group of individuals decide how to regulate the application of genetics science and technology. This gene-directed activity, in attempting to improve upon nature, may not be that distant from what Galton implied in 1909 when he described eugenics as the study of agencies, under social control, which may improve or impair future generations.

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eugenics | Description, History, & Modern Eugenics …

Eugenics | Definition of Eugenics by Merriam-Webster

: the practice or advocacy of controlled selective breeding of human populations (as by sterilization) to improve the population’s genetic composition In 1883 Francis Galton, in England, coined the term “eugenics” to encompass the idea of modification of natural selection through selective breeding for the improvement of humankind Jeremiah A. Barondess A half-century ago, eugenics became associated with Hitler, genocide and master-race theories, and its reputation has never recovered. Dan Seligman After the Second World War, “eugenics” became a word to be hedged with caveats in Britain and virtually a dirty word in the United States, where it had long been identified with racism. Daniel J. Kevles The new advocates of biotechnology speak approvingly of what they term “free-market eugenics.” Dinesh D’Souza

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Eugenics | Definition of Eugenics by Merriam-Webster

Eugenics – HISTORY

Contents

Eugenics is the science of improving the human species by selectively mating people with specific desirable hereditary traits. It aims to reduce human suffering by breeding out disease, disabilities and so-called undesirable characteristics from the human population. Early supporters of eugenics believed people inherited mental illness, criminal tendencies and even poverty, and that these conditions could be bred out of the gene pool.

Historically, eugenics encouraged people of so-called healthy, superior stock to reproduce and discouraged reproduction of the mentally challenged or anyone who fell outside the social norm. Eugenics was popular in America during much of the first half of the twentieth century, yet it earned its negative association mainly from Adolf Hitlers obsessive attempts to create a superior Aryan race.

Modern eugenics, more often called human genetic engineering, has come a long wayscientifically and ethicallyand offers hope for treating many devastating genetic illnesses. Even so, it remains controversial.

Eugenics literally means good creation. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato may have been the first person to promote the idea, although the term eugenics didnt come on the scene until British scholar Sir Francis Galton coined it in 1883 in his book, Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development.

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In one of Platos best-known literary works, The Republic, he wrote about creating a superior society by procreating high-class people together and discouraging coupling between the lower classes. He also suggested a variety of mating rules to help create an optimal society.

For instance, men should only have relations with a woman when arranged by their ruler, and incestuous relationships between parents and children were forbidden but not between brother and sister. While Platos ideas may be considered a form of ancient eugenics, he received little credit from Galton.

In the late 19th century, Galtonwhose cousin was Charles Darwinhoped to better humankind through the propagation of the British elite. His plan never really took hold in his own country, but in America it was more widely embraced.

Eugenics made its first official appearance in American history through marriage laws. In 1896, Connecticut made it illegal for people with epilepsy or who were feeble-minded to marry. In 1903, the American Breeders Association was created to study eugenics.

John Harvey Kellogg, of Kellogg cereal fame, organized the Race Betterment Foundation in 1911 and established a pedigree registry. The foundation hosted national conferences on eugenics in 1914, 1915 and 1928.

As the concept of eugenics took hold, prominent citizens, scientists and socialists championed the cause and established the Eugenics Record Office. The office tracked families and their genetic traits, claiming most people considered unfit were immigrants, minorities or poor.

The Eugenics Record Office also maintained there was clear evidence that supposed negative family traits were caused by bad genes, not racism, economics or the social views of the time.

Eugenics in America took a dark turn in the early 20th century, led by California. From 1909 to 1979, around 20,000 sterilizations occurred in California state mental institutions under the guise of protecting society from the offspring of people with mental illness.

Many sterilizations were forced and performed on minorities. Thirty-three states would eventually allow involuntary sterilization in whomever lawmakers deemed unworthy to procreate.

In 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that forced sterilization of the handicapped does not violate the U.S. Constitution. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes, three generations of imbeciles are enough. In 1942, the ruling was overturned, but not before thousands of people underwent the procedure.

In the 1930s, the governor of Puerto Rico, Menendez Ramos, implemented sterilization programs for Puerto Rican women. Ramos claimed the action was needed to battle rampant poverty and economic strife; however, it may have also been a way to prevent the so-called superior Aryan gene pool from becoming tainted with Latino blood.

According to a 1976 Government Accountability Office investigation, between 25 and 50 percent of Native Americans were sterilized between 1970 and 1976. Its thought some sterilizations happened without consent during other surgical procedures such as an appendectomy.

In some cases, health care for living children was denied unless their mothers agreed to sterilization.

As horrific as forced sterilization in America was, nothing compared to Adolf Hitlers eugenic experiments during World War II. And Hitler didnt come up with the concept of a superior Aryan race all on his own. In fact, he referred to American eugenics in his 1934 book, Mein Kampf.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler declares non-Aryan races such as Jews and gypsies as inferior. He believed Germans should do everything possible, including genocide, to make sure their gene pool stayed pure. And in 1933, the Nazis created the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring which resulted in thousands of forced sterilizations.

By 1940, Hitlers master-race mania took a terrible turn as Germans with mental or physical disabilities were euthanized by gas or lethal injection. Even the blind and deaf werent safe, and hundreds of thousands of people were killed.

During World War II, concentration camp prisoners endured horrific medical tests under the guise of helping Hitler create the perfect race. Josef Mengele, an SS doctor at Auschwitz, oversaw many experiments on both adult and child twins.

He used chemical eyedrops to try and create blue eyes, injected prisoners with devastating diseases and performed surgery without anesthesia. Many of his patients died or suffered permanent disability, and his gruesome experiments earned him the nickname, Angel of Death.

In all, its estimated eleven million people died during the Holocaust, most of them because they didnt fit Hitlers definition of a superior race.

Thanks to the unspeakable atrocities of Hitler and the Nazis, eugenics lost momentum in after World War II, although forced sterilizations still happened. But as medical technology advanced, a new form of eugenics came on the scene.

Modern eugenics, better known as human genetic engineering, changes or removes genes to prevent disease, cure disease or improve your body in some significant way. The potential health benefits of human gene therapy are staggering since many devastating or life-threatening illnesses could be cured.

But modern genetic engineering also comes with a potential cost. As technology advances, people could routinely weed-out what they consider undesirable traits in their offspring. Genetic testing already allows parents to identify some diseases in their child in utero which may cause them to terminate the pregnancy.

This is controversial since what exactly constitutes negative traits is open to interpretation, and many people feel that all humans have the right to be born regardless of disease, or that the laws of nature shouldnt be tampered with.

Much of Americas historical eugenics efforts such as forced sterilizations have gone unpunished, although some states offered reparations to victims or their survivors. For the most part, though, its a largely unknown stain on Americas history. And no amount of money can ever repair the devastation of Hitlers eugenics programs.

As scientists embark on a new eugenics frontier, past failings can serve as a warning to approach modern genetic research with care and compassion.

American Breeders Association. University of Missouri.Charles Davenport and the Eugenics Record Office. University of Missouri.Forced Sterilization of Native Americans: Late Twentieth Century Physician Cooperation with National Eugenic Policies. The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity.Greek Theories on Eugenics. Journal of Medical Ethics.Josef Mengele. Holocaust Encyclopedia.Latina Women: Forced Sterilization. University of Michigan.Modern Eugenics: Building a Better Person? Helix.Nazi Medical Experiments. Holocaust Encyclopedia.Plato. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.Unwanted Sterilization and Eugenics Programs in the United States. PBS.

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Eugenics – HISTORY

Eugenics – Wikipedia

Eugenics (; from Greek eugenes ‘well-born’ from eu, ‘good, well’ and genos, ‘race, stock, kin’)[2][3] is a set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of a human population.[4][5] The exact definition of eugenics has been a matter of debate since the term was coined by Francis Galton in 1883. The concept predates this coinage, with Plato suggesting applying the principles of selective breeding to humans around 400BCE.

Frederick Osborn’s 1937 journal article “Development of a Eugenic Philosophy”[6] framed it as a social philosophythat is, a philosophy with implications for social order. That definition is not universally accepted. Osborn advocated for higher rates of sexual reproduction among people with desired traits (positive eugenics), or reduced rates of sexual reproduction and sterilization of people with less-desired or undesired traits (negative eugenics).

Alternatively, gene selection rather than “people selection” has recently been made possible through advances in genome editing,[7] leading to what is sometimes called new eugenics, also known as neo-eugenics, consumer eugenics, or liberal eugenics.

While eugenic principles have been practiced as far back in world history as ancient Greece, the modern history of eugenics began in the early 20th century when a popular eugenics movement emerged in the United Kingdom[8] and spread to many countries including the United States, Canada[9] and most European countries. In this period, eugenic ideas were espoused across the political spectrum. Consequently, many countries adopted eugenic policies with the intent to improve the quality of their populations’ genetic stock. Such programs included both “positive” measures, such as encouraging individuals deemed particularly “fit” to reproduce, and “negative” measures such as marriage prohibitions and forced sterilization of people deemed unfit for reproduction. People deemed unfit to reproduce often included people with mental or physical disabilities, people who scored in the low ranges of different IQ tests, criminals and deviants, and members of disfavored minority groups. The eugenics movement became negatively associated with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust when many of the defendants at the Nuremberg trials attempted to justify their human rights abuses by claiming there was little difference between the Nazi eugenics programs and the U.S. eugenics programs.[10] In the decades following World War II, with the institution of human rights, many countries gradually began to abandon eugenics policies, although some Western countries, among them the United States and Sweden, continued to carry out forced sterilizations.

Since the 1980s and 1990s, when new assisted reproductive technology procedures became available such as gestational surrogacy (available since 1985), preimplantation genetic diagnosis (available since 1989), and cytoplasmic transfer (first performed in 1996), fear has emerged about a possible revival of eugenics.

A major criticism of eugenics policies is that, regardless of whether “negative” or “positive” policies are used, they are susceptible to abuse because the criteria of selection are determined by whichever group is in political power at the time. Furthermore, negative eugenics in particular is considered by many to be a violation of basic human rights, which include the right to reproduction. Another criticism is that eugenic policies eventually lead to a loss of genetic diversity, resulting in inbreeding depression due to lower genetic variation.

Seneca the Younger

The concept of positive eugenics to produce better human beings has existed at least since Plato suggested selective mating to produce a guardian class.[12] In Sparta, every Spartan child was inspected by the council of elders, the Gerousia, which determined if the child was fit to live or not. In the early years of ancient Rome, a Roman father was obliged by law to immediately kill his child if they were physically disabled.[13] Among the ancient Germanic tribes, people who were cowardly, unwarlike or “stained with abominable vices” were put to death, usually by being drowned in swamps.[14][15]

The first formal negative eugenics, that is a legal provision against the birth of allegedly inferior human beings, was promulgated in Western European culture by the Christian Council of Agde in 506, which forbade marriage between cousins.[16]

This idea was also promoted by William Goodell (18291894) who advocated the castration and spaying of the insane.[17][18]

The idea of a modern project of improving the human population through a statistical understanding of heredity used to encourage good breeding was originally developed by Francis Galton and, initially, was closely linked to Darwinism and his theory of natural selection.[20] Galton had read his half-cousin Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which sought to explain the development of plant and animal species, and desired to apply it to humans. Based on his biographical studies, Galton believed that desirable human qualities were hereditary traits, though Darwin strongly disagreed with this elaboration of his theory.[21] In 1883, one year after Darwin’s death, Galton gave his research a name: eugenics.[22] With the introduction of genetics, eugenics became associated with genetic determinism, the belief that human character is entirely or in the majority caused by genes, unaffected by education or living conditions. Many of the early geneticists were not Darwinians, and evolution theory was not needed for eugenics policies based on genetic determinism.[20] Throughout its recent history, eugenics has remained controversial.

Eugenics became an academic discipline at many colleges and universities and received funding from many sources.[24] Organizations were formed to win public support and sway opinion towards responsible eugenic values in parenthood, including the British Eugenics Education Society of 1907 and the American Eugenics Society of 1921. Both sought support from leading clergymen and modified their message to meet religious ideals.[25] In 1909 the Anglican clergymen William Inge and James Peile both wrote for the British Eugenics Education Society. Inge was an invited speaker at the 1921 International Eugenics Conference, which was also endorsed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York Patrick Joseph Hayes.[25]

Three International Eugenics Conferences presented a global venue for eugenists with meetings in 1912 in London, and in 1921 and 1932 in New York City. Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United States.[26] It also took root in France, Germany, and Great Britain.[27] Later, in the 1920s and 1930s, the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in other countries including Belgium,[28] Brazil,[29] Canada,[30] Japan and Sweden.

In addition to being practiced in a number of countries, eugenics was internationally organized through the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations. Its scientific aspects were carried on through research bodies such as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, the Cold Spring Harbour Carnegie Institution for Experimental Evolution, and the Eugenics Record Office. Politically, the movement advocated measures such as sterilization laws. In its moral dimension, eugenics rejected the doctrine that all human beings are born equal and redefined moral worth purely in terms of genetic fitness. Its racist elements included pursuit of a pure “Nordic race” or “Aryan” genetic pool and the eventual elimination of “unfit” races.

Early critics of the philosophy of eugenics included the American sociologist Lester Frank Ward,[39] the English writer G. K. Chesterton, the German-American anthropologist Franz Boas, who argued that advocates of eugenics greatly over-estimate the influence of biology,[40] and Scottish tuberculosis pioneer and author Halliday Sutherland. Ward’s 1913 article “Eugenics, Euthenics, and Eudemics”, Chesterton’s 1917 book Eugenics and Other Evils, and Boas’ 1916 article “Eugenics” (published in The Scientific Monthly) were all harshly critical of the rapidly growing movement. Sutherland identified eugenists as a major obstacle to the eradication and cure of tuberculosis in his 1917 address “Consumption: Its Cause and Cure”,[41] and criticism of eugenists and Neo-Malthusians in his 1921 book Birth Control led to a writ for libel from the eugenist Marie Stopes. Several biologists were also antagonistic to the eugenics movement, including Lancelot Hogben.[42] Other biologists such as J. B. S. Haldane and R. A. Fisher expressed skepticism in the belief that sterilization of “defectives” would lead to the disappearance of undesirable genetic traits.[43]

Among institutions, the Catholic Church was an opponent of state-enforced sterilizations.[44] Attempts by the Eugenics Education Society to persuade the British government to legalize voluntary sterilization were opposed by Catholics and by the Labour Party.[45] The American Eugenics Society initially gained some Catholic supporters, but Catholic support declined following the 1930 papal encyclical Casti connubii.[25] In this, Pope Pius XI explicitly condemned sterilization laws: “Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason.”[46]

As a social movement, eugenics reached its greatest popularity in the early decades of the 20th century, when it was practiced around the world and promoted by governments, institutions, and influential individuals. Many countries enacted[47] various eugenics policies, including: genetic screenings, birth control, promoting differential birth rates, marriage restrictions, segregation (both racial segregation and sequestering the mentally ill), compulsory sterilization, forced abortions or forced pregnancies, ultimately culminating in genocide.

The scientific reputation of eugenics started to decline in the 1930s, a time when Ernst Rdin used eugenics as a justification for the racial policies of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler had praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf in 1925 and emulated eugenic legislation for the sterilization of “defectives” that had been pioneered in the United States once he took power. Some common early 20th century eugenics methods involved identifying and classifying individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, promiscuous women, homosexuals, and racial groups (such as the Roma and Jews in Nazi Germany) as “degenerate” or “unfit”, and therefore led to segregation, institutionalization, sterilization, euthanasia, and even mass murder. The Nazi practice of euthanasia was carried out on hospital patients in the Aktion T4 centers such as Hartheim Castle.

By the end of World War II, many discriminatory eugenics laws were abandoned, having become associated with Nazi Germany.[50] H. G. Wells, who had called for “the sterilization of failures” in 1904,[51] stated in his 1940 book The Rights of Man: Or What are we fighting for? that among the human rights, which he believed should be available to all people, was “a prohibition on mutilation, sterilization, torture, and any bodily punishment”.[52] After World War II, the practice of “imposing measures intended to prevent births within [a national, ethnical, racial or religious] group” fell within the definition of the new international crime of genocide, set out in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.[53] The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union also proclaims “the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at selection of persons”.[54] In spite of the decline in discriminatory eugenics laws, some government mandated sterilizations continued into the 21st century. During the ten years President Alberto Fujimori led Peru from 1990 to 2000, 2,000 persons were allegedly involuntarily sterilized.[55] China maintained its one-child policy until 2015 as well as a suite of other eugenics based legislation to reduce population size and manage fertility rates of different populations.[56][57][58] In 2007 the United Nations reported coercive sterilizations and hysterectomies in Uzbekistan.[59] During the years 2005 to 2013, nearly one-third of the 144 California prison inmates who were sterilized did not give lawful consent to the operation.[60]

Developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised numerous questions regarding the ethical status of eugenics, effectively creating a resurgence of interest in the subject.Some, such as UC Berkeley sociologist Troy Duster, claim that modern genetics is a back door to eugenics.[61] This view is shared by White House Assistant Director for Forensic Sciences, Tania Simoncelli, who stated in a 2003 publication by the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College that advances in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) are moving society to a “new era of eugenics”, and that, unlike the Nazi eugenics, modern eugenics is consumer driven and market based, “where children are increasingly regarded as made-to-order consumer products”.[62] In a 2006 newspaper article, Richard Dawkins said that discussion regarding eugenics was inhibited by the shadow of Nazi misuse, to the extent that some scientists would not admit that breeding humans for certain abilities is at all possible. He believes that it is not physically different from breeding domestic animals for traits such as speed or herding skill. Dawkins felt that enough time had elapsed to at least ask just what the ethical differences were between breeding for ability versus training athletes or forcing children to take music lessons, though he could think of persuasive reasons to draw the distinction.[63]

Lee Kuan Yew, the Founding Father of Singapore, started promoting eugenics as early as 1983.[64][65]

In October 2015, the United Nations’ International Bioethics Committee wrote that the ethical problems of human genetic engineering should not be confused with the ethical problems of the 20th century eugenics movements. However, it is still problematic because it challenges the idea of human equality and opens up new forms of discrimination and stigmatization for those who do not want, or cannot afford, the technology.[66]

Transhumanism is often associated with eugenics, although most transhumanists holding similar views nonetheless distance themselves from the term “eugenics” (preferring “germinal choice” or “reprogenetics”)[67] to avoid having their position confused with the discredited theories and practices of early-20th-century eugenic movements.

Prenatal screening can be considered a form of contemporary eugenics because it may lead to abortions of children with undesirable traits.[68]

The term eugenics and its modern field of study were first formulated by Francis Galton in 1883,[69] drawing on the recent work of his half-cousin Charles Darwin.[70][71] Galton published his observations and conclusions in his book Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development.

The origins of the concept began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance and the theories of August Weismann. The word eugenics is derived from the Greek word eu (“good” or “well”) and the suffix -gens (“born”), and was coined by Galton in 1883 to replace the word “stirpiculture”, which he had used previously but which had come to be mocked due to its perceived sexual overtones.[73] Galton defined eugenics as “the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations”.[74]

Historically, the term eugenics has referred to everything from prenatal care for mothers to forced sterilization and euthanasia.[75] To population geneticists, the term has included the avoidance of inbreeding without altering allele frequencies; for example, J. B. S. Haldane wrote that “the motor bus, by breaking up inbred village communities, was a powerful eugenic agent.”[76] Debate as to what exactly counts as eugenics continues today.[77]

Edwin Black, journalist and author of War Against the Weak, claims eugenics is often deemed a pseudoscience because what is defined as a genetic improvement of a desired trait is often deemed a cultural choice rather than a matter that can be determined through objective scientific inquiry.[78] The most disputed aspect of eugenics has been the definition of “improvement” of the human gene pool, such as what is a beneficial characteristic and what is a defect. Historically, this aspect of eugenics was tainted with scientific racism and pseudoscience.[79][80][81]

Early eugenists were mostly concerned with factors of perceived intelligence that often correlated strongly with social class. Some of these early eugenists include Karl Pearson and Walter Weldon, who worked on this at the University College London.[21]

Eugenics also had a place in medicine. In his lecture “Darwinism, Medical Progress and Eugenics”, Karl Pearson said that everything concerning eugenics fell into the field of medicine. He basically placed the two words as equivalents. He was supported in part by the fact that Francis Galton, the father of eugenics, also had medical training.[82]

Eugenic policies have been conceptually divided into two categories.[75] Positive eugenics is aimed at encouraging reproduction among the genetically advantaged; for example, the reproduction of the intelligent, the healthy, and the successful. Possible approaches include financial and political stimuli, targeted demographic analyses, in vitro fertilization, egg transplants, and cloning.[83] The movie Gattaca provides a fictional example of a dystopian society that uses eugenics to decided what you are capable of and your place in the world. Negative eugenics aimed to eliminate, through sterilization or segregation, those deemed physically, mentally, or morally “undesirable”. This includes abortions, sterilization, and other methods of family planning.[83] Both positive and negative eugenics can be coercive; abortion for fit women, for example, was illegal in Nazi Germany.[84]

Jon Entine claims that eugenics simply means “good genes” and using it as synonym for genocide is an “all-too-common distortion of the social history of genetics policy in the United States.” According to Entine, eugenics developed out of the Progressive Era and not “Hitler’s twisted Final Solution”.[85]

According to Richard Lynn, eugenics may be divided into two main categories based on the ways in which the methods of eugenics can be applied.[86]

The first major challenge to conventional eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was made in 1915 by Thomas Hunt Morgan. He demonstrated the event of genetic mutation occurring outside of inheritance involving the discovery of the hatching of a fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) with white eyes from a family with red eyes. Morgan claimed that this demonstrated that major genetic changes occurred outside of inheritance and that the concept of eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was not completely scientifically accurate. Additionally, Morgan criticized the view that subjective traits, such as intelligence and criminality, were caused by heredity because he believed that the definitions of these traits varied and that accurate work in genetics could only be done when the traits being studied were accurately defined.[123] Despite Morgan’s public rejection of eugenics, much of his genetic research was absorbed by eugenics.[124][125]

The heterozygote test is used for the early detection of recessive hereditary diseases, allowing for couples to determine if they are at risk of passing genetic defects to a future child.[126] The goal of the test is to estimate the likelihood of passing the hereditary disease to future descendants.[126]

Recessive traits can be severely reduced, but never eliminated unless the complete genetic makeup of all members of the pool was known, as aforementioned. As only very few undesirable traits, such as Huntington’s disease, are dominant, it could be argued[by whom?] from certain perspectives that the practicality of “eliminating” traits is quite low.[citation needed]

There are examples of eugenic acts that managed to lower the prevalence of recessive diseases, although not influencing the prevalence of heterozygote carriers of those diseases. The elevated prevalence of certain genetically transmitted diseases among the Ashkenazi Jewish population (TaySachs, cystic fibrosis, Canavan’s disease, and Gaucher’s disease), has been decreased in current populations by the application of genetic screening.[127]

Pleiotropy occurs when one gene influences multiple, seemingly unrelated phenotypic traits, an example being phenylketonuria, which is a human disease that affects multiple systems but is caused by one gene defect.[128] Andrzej Pkalski, from the University of Wrocaw, argues that eugenics can cause harmful loss of genetic diversity if a eugenics program selects a pleiotropic gene that could possibly be associated with a positive trait. Pekalski uses the example of a coercive government eugenics program that prohibits people with myopia from breeding but has the unintended consequence of also selecting against high intelligence since the two go together.[129]

Eugenic policies could also lead to loss of genetic diversity, in which case a culturally accepted “improvement” of the gene pool could very likelyas evidenced in numerous instances in isolated island populations result in extinction due to increased vulnerability to disease, reduced ability to adapt to environmental change, and other factors both known and unknown. A long-term, species-wide eugenics plan might lead to a scenario similar to this because the elimination of traits deemed undesirable would reduce genetic diversity by definition.[130]

Edward M. Miller claims that, in any one generation, any realistic program should make only minor changes in a fraction of the gene pool, giving plenty of time to reverse direction if unintended consequences emerge, reducing the likelihood of the elimination of desirable genes.[131] Miller also argues that any appreciable reduction in diversity is so far in the future that little concern is needed for now.[131]

While the science of genetics has increasingly provided means by which certain characteristics and conditions can be identified and understood, given the complexity of human genetics, culture, and psychology, at this point no agreed objective means of determining which traits might be ultimately desirable or undesirable. Some diseases such as sickle-cell disease and cystic fibrosis respectively confer immunity to malaria and resistance to cholera when a single copy of the recessive allele is contained within the genotype of the individual. Reducing the instance of sickle-cell disease genes in Africa where malaria is a common and deadly disease could indeed have extremely negative net consequences.

However, some genetic diseases cause people to consider some elements of eugenics.

Societal and political consequences of eugenics call for a place in the discussion on the ethics behind the eugenics movement.[132] Many of the ethical concerns regarding eugenics arise from its controversial past, prompting a discussion on what place, if any, it should have in the future. Advances in science have changed eugenics. In the past, eugenics had more to do with sterilization and enforced reproduction laws.[133] Now, in the age of a progressively mapped genome, embryos can be tested for susceptibility to disease, gender, and genetic defects, and alternative methods of reproduction such as in vitro fertilization are becoming more common.[134] Therefore, eugenics is no longer ex post facto regulation of the living but instead preemptive action on the unborn.[135]

With this change, however, there are ethical concerns which lack adequate attention, and which must be addressed before eugenic policies can be properly implemented in the future. Sterilized individuals, for example, could volunteer for the procedure, albeit under incentive or duress, or at least voice their opinion. The unborn fetus on which these new eugenic procedures are performed cannot speak out, as the fetus lacks the voice to consent or to express his or her opinion.[136] Philosophers disagree about the proper framework for reasoning about such actions, which change the very identity and existence of future persons.[137]

A common criticism of eugenics is that “it inevitably leads to measures that are unethical”.[138] Some fear future “eugenics wars” as the worst-case scenario: the return of coercive state-sponsored genetic discrimination and human rights violations such as compulsory sterilization of persons with genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, specifically, segregation and genocide of races perceived as inferior.[139] Health law professor George Annas and technology law professor Lori Andrews are prominent advocates of the position that the use of these technologies could lead to such human-posthuman caste warfare.[140][141]

In his 2003 book Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, environmental ethicist Bill McKibben argued at length against germinal choice technology and other advanced biotechnological strategies for human enhancement. He writes that it would be morally wrong for humans to tamper with fundamental aspects of themselves (or their children) in an attempt to overcome universal human limitations, such as vulnerability to aging, maximum life span and biological constraints on physical and cognitive ability. Attempts to “improve” themselves through such manipulation would remove limitations that provide a necessary context for the experience of meaningful human choice. He claims that human lives would no longer seem meaningful in a world where such limitations could be overcome with technology. Even the goal of using germinal choice technology for clearly therapeutic purposes should be relinquished, since it would inevitably produce temptations to tamper with such things as cognitive capacities. He argues that it is possible for societies to benefit from renouncing particular technologies, using as examples Ming China, Tokugawa Japan and the contemporary Amish.[142]

Some, for example Nathaniel C. Comfort from Johns Hopkins University, claim that the change from state-led reproductive-genetic decision-making to individual choice has moderated the worst abuses of eugenics by transferring the decision-making from the state to the patient and their family.[143] Comfort suggests that “the eugenic impulse drives us to eliminate disease, live longer and healthier, with greater intelligence, and a better adjustment to the conditions of society; and the health benefits, the intellectual thrill and the profits of genetic bio-medicine are too great for us to do otherwise.”[144] Others, such as bioethicist Stephen Wilkinson of Keele University and Honorary Research Fellow Eve Garrard at the University of Manchester, claim that some aspects of modern genetics can be classified as eugenics, but that this classification does not inherently make modern genetics immoral. In a co-authored publication by Keele University, they stated that “[e]ugenics doesn’t seem always to be immoral, and so the fact that PGD, and other forms of selective reproduction, might sometimes technically be eugenic, isn’t sufficient to show that they’re wrong.”[145]

In their book published in 2000, From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice, bioethicists Allen Buchanan, Dan Brock, Norman Daniels and Daniel Wikler argued that liberal societies have an obligation to encourage as wide an adoption of eugenic enhancement technologies as possible (so long as such policies do not infringe on individuals’ reproductive rights or exert undue pressures on prospective parents to use these technologies) in order to maximize public health and minimize the inequalities that may result from both natural genetic endowments and unequal access to genetic enhancements.[146]

Original position, a hypothetical situation developed by American philosopher John Rawls, has been used as an argument for negative eugenics.[147][148]

Notes

Bibliography

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Eugenics – Wikipedia

eugenics | Description, History, & Modern Eugenics …

Eugenics, the selection of desired heritable characteristics in order to improve future generations, typically in reference to humans. The term eugenics was coined in 1883 by British explorer and natural scientist Francis Galton, who, influenced by Charles Darwins theory of natural selection, advocated a system that would allow the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable. Social Darwinism, the popular theory in the late 19th century that life for humans in society was ruled by survival of the fittest, helped advance eugenics into serious scientific study in the early 1900s. By World War I many scientific authorities and political leaders supported eugenics. However, it ultimately failed as a science in the 1930s and 40s, when the assumptions of eugenicists became heavily criticized and the Nazis used eugenics to support the extermination of entire races.

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biological determinism: The eugenics movement

One of the most prominent movements to apply genetics to understanding social and personality traits was the eugenics movement, which originated in the late 19th century. Eugenics was coined in 1883 by British explorer and naturalist Francis Galton, who was influenced by the

Although eugenics as understood today dates from the late 19th century, efforts to select matings in order to secure offspring with desirable traits date from ancient times. Platos Republic (c. 378 bce) depicts a society where efforts are undertaken to improve human beings through selective breeding. Later, Italian philosopher and poet Tommaso Campanella, in City of the Sun (1623), described a utopian community in which only the socially elite are allowed to procreate. Galton, in Hereditary Genius (1869), proposed that a system of arranged marriages between men of distinction and women of wealth would eventually produce a gifted race. In 1865 the basic laws of heredity were discovered by the father of modern genetics, Gregor Mendel. His experiments with peas demonstrated that each physical trait was the result of a combination of two units (now known as genes) and could be passed from one generation to another. However, his work was largely ignored until its rediscovery in 1900. This fundamental knowledge of heredity provided eugenicistsincluding Galton, who influenced his cousin Charles Darwinwith scientific evidence to support the improvement of humans through selective breeding.

The advancement of eugenics was concurrent with an increasing appreciation of Darwins account for change or evolution within societywhat contemporaries referred to as social Darwinism. Darwin had concluded his explanations of evolution by arguing that the greatest step humans could make in their own history would occur when they realized that they were not completely guided by instinct. Rather, humans, through selective reproduction, had the ability to control their own future evolution. A language pertaining to reproduction and eugenics developed, leading to terms such as positive eugenics, defined as promoting the proliferation of good stock, and negative eugenics, defined as prohibiting marriage and breeding between defective stock. For eugenicists, nature was far more contributory than nurture in shaping humanity.

During the early 1900s eugenics became a serious scientific study pursued by both biologists and social scientists. They sought to determine the extent to which human characteristics of social importance were inherited. Among their greatest concerns were the predictability of intelligence and certain deviant behaviours. Eugenics, however, was not confined to scientific laboratories and academic institutions. It began to pervade cultural thought around the globe, including the Scandinavian countries, most other European countries, North America, Latin America, Japan, China, and Russia. In the United States the eugenics movement began during the Progressive Era and remained active through 1940. It gained considerable support from leading scientific authorities such as zoologist Charles B. Davenport, plant geneticist Edward M. East, and geneticist and Nobel Prize laureate Hermann J. Muller. Political leaders in favour of eugenics included U.S. Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, Secretary of State Elihu Root, and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall Harlan. Internationally, there were many individuals whose work supported eugenic aims, including British scientists J.B.S. Haldane and Julian Huxley and Russian scientists Nikolay K. Koltsov and Yury A. Filipchenko.

Galton had endowed a research fellowship in eugenics in 1904 and, in his will, provided funds for a chair of eugenics at University College, London. The fellowship and later the chair were occupied by Karl Pearson, a brilliant mathematician who helped to create the science of biometry, the statistical aspects of biology. Pearson was a controversial figure who believed that environment had little to do with the development of mental or emotional qualities. He felt that the high birth rate of the poor was a threat to civilization and that the higher races must supplant the lower. His views gave countenance to those who believed in racial and class superiority. Thus, Pearson shares the blame for the discredit later brought on eugenics.

In the United States, the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) was opened at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York, in 1910 with financial support from the legacy of railroad magnate Edward Henry Harriman. Whereas ERO efforts were officially overseen by Charles B. Davenport, director of the Station for Experimental Study of Evolution (one of the biology research stations at Cold Spring Harbor), ERO activities were directly superintended by Harry H. Laughlin, a professor from Kirksville, Missouri. The ERO was organized around a series of missions. These missions included serving as the national repository and clearinghouse for eugenics information, compiling an index of traits in American families, training fieldworkers to gather data throughout the United States, supporting investigations into the inheritance patterns of particular human traits and diseases, advising on the eugenic fitness of proposed marriages, and communicating all eugenic findings through a series of publications. To accomplish these goals, further funding was secured from the Carnegie Institution of Washington, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the Battle Creek Race Betterment Foundation, and the Human Betterment Foundation.

Prior to the founding of the ERO, eugenics work in the United States was overseen by a standing committee of the American Breeders Association (eugenics section established in 1906), chaired by ichthyologist and Stanford University president David Starr Jordan. Research from around the globe was featured at three international congresses, held in 1912, 1921, and 1932. In addition, eugenics education was monitored in Britain by the English Eugenics Society (founded by Galton in 1907 as the Eugenics Education Society) and in the United States by the American Eugenics Society.

Following World War I, the United States gained status as a world power. A concomitant fear arose that if the healthy stock of the American people became diluted with socially undesirable traits, the countrys political and economic strength would begin to crumble. The maintenance of world peace by fostering democracy, capitalism, and, at times, eugenics-based schemes was central to the activities of the Internationalists, a group of prominent American leaders in business, education, publishing, and government. One core member of this group, the New York lawyer Madison Grant, aroused considerable pro-eugenic interest through his best-selling book The Passing of the Great Race (1916). Beginning in 1920, a series of congressional hearings was held to identify problems that immigrants were causing the United States. As the countrys eugenics expert, Harry Laughlin provided tabulations showing that certain immigrants, particularly those from Italy, Greece, and Eastern Europe, were significantly overrepresented in American prisons and institutions for the feebleminded. Further data were construed to suggest that these groups were contributing too many genetically and socially inferior people. Laughlins classification of these individuals included the feebleminded, the insane, the criminalistic, the epileptic, the inebriate, the diseasedincluding those with tuberculosis, leprosy, and syphilisthe blind, the deaf, the deformed, the dependent, chronic recipients of charity, paupers, and neer-do-wells. Racial overtones also pervaded much of the British and American eugenics literature. In 1923 Laughlin was sent by the U.S. secretary of labour as an immigration agent to Europe to investigate the chief emigrant-exporting nations. Laughlin sought to determine the feasibility of a plan whereby every prospective immigrant would be interviewed before embarking to the United States. He provided testimony before Congress that ultimately led to a new immigration law in 1924 that severely restricted the annual immigration of individuals from countries previously claimed to have contributed excessively to the dilution of American good stock.

Immigration control was but one method to control eugenically the reproductive stock of a country. Laughlin appeared at the centre of other U.S. efforts to provide eugenicists greater reproductive control over the nation. He approached state legislators with a model law to control the reproduction of institutionalized populations. By 1920, two years before the publication of Laughlins influential Eugenical Sterilization in the United States (1922), 3,200 individuals across the country were reported to have been involuntarily sterilized. That number tripled by 1929, and by 1938 more than 30,000 people were claimed to have met this fate. More than half of the states adopted Laughlins law, with California, Virginia, and Michigan leading the sterilization campaign. Laughlins efforts secured staunch judicial support in 1927. In the precedent-setting case of Buck v. Bell, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., upheld the Virginia statute and claimed, It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.

During the 1930s eugenics gained considerable popular support across the United States. Hygiene courses in public schools and eugenics courses in colleges spread eugenic-minded values to many. A eugenics exhibit titled Pedigree-Study in Man was featured at the Chicago Worlds Fair in 193334. Consistent with the fairs Century of Progress theme, stations were organized around efforts to show how favourable traits in the human population could best be perpetuated. Contrasts were drawn between the emulative presidential Roosevelt family and the degenerate Ishmael family (one of several pseudonymous family names used, the rationale for which was not given). By studying the passage of ancestral traits, fairgoers were urged to adopt the progressive view that responsible individuals should pursue marriage ever mindful of eugenics principles. Booths were set up at county and state fairs promoting fitter families contests, and medals were awarded to eugenically sound families. Drawing again upon long-standing eugenic practices in agriculture, popular eugenic advertisements claimed it was about time that humans received the same attention in the breeding of better babies that had been given to livestock and crops for centuries.

Anti-eugenics sentiment began to appear after 1910 and intensified during the 1930s. Most commonly it was based on religious grounds. For example, the 1930 papal encyclical Casti connubii condemned reproductive sterilization, though it did not specifically prohibit positive eugenic attempts to amplify the inheritance of beneficial traits. Many Protestant writings sought to reconcile age-old Christian warnings about the heritable sins of the father to pro-eugenic ideals. Indeed, most of the religion-based popular writings of the period supported positive means of improving the physical and moral makeup of humanity.

In the early 1930s Nazi Germany adopted American measures to identify and selectively reduce the presence of those deemed to be socially inferior through involuntary sterilization. A rhetoric of positive eugenics in the building of a master race pervaded Rassenhygiene (racial hygiene) movements. When Germany extended its practices far beyond sterilization in efforts to eliminate the Jewish and other non-Aryan populations, the United States became increasingly concerned over its own support of eugenics. Many scientists, physicians, and political leaders began to denounce the work of the ERO publicly. After considerable reflection, the Carnegie Institution formally closed the ERO at the end of 1939.

During the aftermath of World War II, eugenics became stigmatized such that many individuals who had once hailed it as a science now spoke disparagingly of it as a failed pseudoscience. Eugenics was dropped from organization and publication names. In 1954 Britains Annals of Eugenics was renamed Annals of Human Genetics. In 1972 the American Eugenics Society adopted the less-offensive name Society for the Study of Social Biology. Its publication, once popularly known as the Eugenics Quarterly, had already been renamed Social Biology in 1969.

U.S. Senate hearings in 1973, chaired by Sen. Ted Kennedy, revealed that thousands of U.S. citizens had been sterilized under federally supported programs. The U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare proposed guidelines encouraging each state to repeal their respective sterilization laws. Other countries, most notably China, continue to support eugenics-directed programs openly in order to ensure the genetic makeup of their future.

Despite the dropping of the term eugenics, eugenic ideas remained prevalent in many issues surrounding human reproduction. Medical genetics, a post-World War II medical specialty, encompasses a wide range of health concerns, from genetic screening and counseling to fetal gene manipulation and the treatment of adults suffering from hereditary disorders. Because certain diseases (e.g., hemophilia and Tay-Sachs disease) are now known to be genetically transmitted, many couples choose to undergo genetic screening, in which they learn the chances that their offspring have of being affected by some combination of their hereditary backgrounds. Couples at risk of passing on genetic defects may opt to remain childless or to adopt children. Furthermore, it is now possible to diagnose certain genetic defects in the unborn. Many couples choose to terminate a pregnancy that involves a genetically disabled offspring. These developments have reinforced the eugenic aim of identifying and eliminating undesirable genetic material.

Counterbalancing this trend, however, has been medical progress that enables victims of many genetic diseases to live fairly normal lives. Direct manipulation of harmful genes is also being studied. If perfected, it could obviate eugenic arguments for restricting reproduction among those who carry harmful genes. Such conflicting innovations have complicated the controversy surrounding what many call the new eugenics. Moreover, suggestions for expanding eugenics programs, which range from the creation of sperm banks for the genetically superior to the potential cloning of human beings, have met with vigorous resistance from the public, which often views such programs as unwarranted interference with nature or as opportunities for abuse by authoritarian regimes.

Applications of the Human Genome Project are often referred to as Brave New World genetics or the new eugenics, in part because they have helped to dramatically increase knowledge of human genetics. In addition, 21st-century technologies such as gene editing, which can potentially be used to treat disease or to alter traits, have further renewed concerns. However, the ethical, legal, and social implications of such tools are monitored much more closely than were early 20th-century eugenics programs. Applications generally are more focused on the reduction of genetic diseases than on improving intelligence.

Still, with or without the use of the term, many eugenics-related concerns are reemerging as a new group of individuals decide how to regulate the application of genetics science and technology. This gene-directed activity, in attempting to improve upon nature, may not be that distant from what Galton implied in 1909 when he described eugenics as the study of agencies, under social control, which may improve or impair future generations.

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eugenics | Description, History, & Modern Eugenics …

Eugenics | Definition of Eugenics by Merriam-Webster

: the practice or advocacy of controlled selective breeding of human populations (as by sterilization) to improve the population’s genetic composition In 1883 Francis Galton, in England, coined the term “eugenics” to encompass the idea of modification of natural selection through selective breeding for the improvement of humankind Jeremiah A. Barondess A half-century ago, eugenics became associated with Hitler, genocide and master-race theories, and its reputation has never recovered. Dan Seligman After the Second World War, “eugenics” became a word to be hedged with caveats in Britain and virtually a dirty word in the United States, where it had long been identified with racism. Daniel J. Kevles The new advocates of biotechnology speak approvingly of what they term “free-market eugenics.” Dinesh D’Souza

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Eugenics | Definition of Eugenics by Merriam-Webster

Eugenics – HISTORY

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Eugenics is the science of improving the human species by selectively mating people with specific desirable hereditary traits. It aims to reduce human suffering by breeding out disease, disabilities and so-called undesirable characteristics from the human population. Early supporters of eugenics believed people inherited mental illness, criminal tendencies and even poverty, and that these conditions could be bred out of the gene pool.

Historically, eugenics encouraged people of so-called healthy, superior stock to reproduce and discouraged reproduction of the mentally challenged or anyone who fell outside the social norm. Eugenics was popular in America during much of the first half of the twentieth century, yet it earned its negative association mainly from Adolf Hitlers obsessive attempts to create a superior Aryan race.

Modern eugenics, more often called human genetic engineering, has come a long wayscientifically and ethicallyand offers hope for treating many devastating genetic illnesses. Even so, it remains controversial.

Eugenics literally means good creation. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato may have been the first person to promote the idea, although the term eugenics didnt come on the scene until British scholar Sir Francis Galton coined it in 1883 in his book, Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development.

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In one of Platos best-known literary works, The Republic, he wrote about creating a superior society by procreating high-class people together and discouraging coupling between the lower classes. He also suggested a variety of mating rules to help create an optimal society.

For instance, men should only have relations with a woman when arranged by their ruler, and incestuous relationships between parents and children were forbidden but not between brother and sister. While Platos ideas may be considered a form of ancient eugenics, he received little credit from Galton.

In the late 19th century, Galtonwhose cousin was Charles Darwinhoped to better humankind through the propagation of the British elite. His plan never really took hold in his own country, but in America it was more widely embraced.

Eugenics made its first official appearance in American history through marriage laws. In 1896, Connecticut made it illegal for people with epilepsy or who were feeble-minded to marry. In 1903, the American Breeders Association was created to study eugenics.

John Harvey Kellogg, of Kellogg cereal fame, organized the Race Betterment Foundation in 1911 and established a pedigree registry. The foundation hosted national conferences on eugenics in 1914, 1915 and 1928.

As the concept of eugenics took hold, prominent citizens, scientists and socialists championed the cause and established the Eugenics Record Office. The office tracked families and their genetic traits, claiming most people considered unfit were immigrants, minorities or poor.

The Eugenics Record Office also maintained there was clear evidence that supposed negative family traits were caused by bad genes, not racism, economics or the social views of the time.

Eugenics in America took a dark turn in the early 20th century, led by California. From 1909 to 1979, around 20,000 sterilizations occurred in California state mental institutions under the guise of protecting society from the offspring of people with mental illness.

Many sterilizations were forced and performed on minorities. Thirty-three states would eventually allow involuntary sterilization in whomever lawmakers deemed unworthy to procreate.

In 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that forced sterilization of the handicapped does not violate the U.S. Constitution. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes, three generations of imbeciles are enough. In 1942, the ruling was overturned, but not before thousands of people underwent the procedure.

In the 1930s, the governor of Puerto Rico, Menendez Ramos, implemented sterilization programs for Puerto Rican women. Ramos claimed the action was needed to battle rampant poverty and economic strife; however, it may have also been a way to prevent the so-called superior Aryan gene pool from becoming tainted with Latino blood.

According to a 1976 Government Accountability Office investigation, between 25 and 50 percent of Native Americans were sterilized between 1970 and 1976. Its thought some sterilizations happened without consent during other surgical procedures such as an appendectomy.

In some cases, health care for living children was denied unless their mothers agreed to sterilization.

As horrific as forced sterilization in America was, nothing compared to Adolf Hitlers eugenic experiments during World War II. And Hitler didnt come up with the concept of a superior Aryan race all on his own. In fact, he referred to American eugenics in his 1934 book, Mein Kampf.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler declares non-Aryan races such as Jews and gypsies as inferior. He believed Germans should do everything possible, including genocide, to make sure their gene pool stayed pure. And in 1933, the Nazis created the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring which resulted in thousands of forced sterilizations.

By 1940, Hitlers master-race mania took a terrible turn as Germans with mental or physical disabilities were euthanized by gas or lethal injection. Even the blind and deaf werent safe, and hundreds of thousands of people were killed.

During World War II, concentration camp prisoners endured horrific medical tests under the guise of helping Hitler create the perfect race. Josef Mengele, an SS doctor at Auschwitz, oversaw many experiments on both adult and child twins.

He used chemical eyedrops to try and create blue eyes, injected prisoners with devastating diseases and performed surgery without anesthesia. Many of his patients died or suffered permanent disability, and his gruesome experiments earned him the nickname, Angel of Death.

In all, its estimated eleven million people died during the Holocaust, most of them because they didnt fit Hitlers definition of a superior race.

Thanks to the unspeakable atrocities of Hitler and the Nazis, eugenics lost momentum in after World War II, although forced sterilizations still happened. But as medical technology advanced, a new form of eugenics came on the scene.

Modern eugenics, better known as human genetic engineering, changes or removes genes to prevent disease, cure disease or improve your body in some significant way. The potential health benefits of human gene therapy are staggering since many devastating or life-threatening illnesses could be cured.

But modern genetic engineering also comes with a potential cost. As technology advances, people could routinely weed-out what they consider undesirable traits in their offspring. Genetic testing already allows parents to identify some diseases in their child in utero which may cause them to terminate the pregnancy.

This is controversial since what exactly constitutes negative traits is open to interpretation, and many people feel that all humans have the right to be born regardless of disease, or that the laws of nature shouldnt be tampered with.

Much of Americas historical eugenics efforts such as forced sterilizations have gone unpunished, although some states offered reparations to victims or their survivors. For the most part, though, its a largely unknown stain on Americas history. And no amount of money can ever repair the devastation of Hitlers eugenics programs.

As scientists embark on a new eugenics frontier, past failings can serve as a warning to approach modern genetic research with care and compassion.

American Breeders Association. University of Missouri.Charles Davenport and the Eugenics Record Office. University of Missouri.Forced Sterilization of Native Americans: Late Twentieth Century Physician Cooperation with National Eugenic Policies. The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity.Greek Theories on Eugenics. Journal of Medical Ethics.Josef Mengele. Holocaust Encyclopedia.Latina Women: Forced Sterilization. University of Michigan.Modern Eugenics: Building a Better Person? Helix.Nazi Medical Experiments. Holocaust Encyclopedia.Plato. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.Unwanted Sterilization and Eugenics Programs in the United States. PBS.

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Eugenics – HISTORY

Introduction to Eugenics – Genetics Generation

Introduction to Eugenics

Eugenics is a movement that is aimed at improving the genetic composition of the human race. Historically, eugenicists advocated selective breeding to achieve these goals. Today we have technologies that make it possible to more directly alter the genetic composition of an individual. However, people differ in their views on how to best (and ethically) use this technology.

History of Eugenics

Logo of the Second International Congress of Eugenics, 1921. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In 1883, Sir Francis Galton, a respected British scholar and cousin of Charles Darwin,first used the term eugenics, meaning well-born. Galton believed that the human race could help direct its future by selectively breeding individuals who have desired traits. This idea was based on Galtons study of upper class Britain. Following these studies, Galton concluded that an elite position in society was due to a good genetic makeup. While Galtons plans to improve the human race through selective breeding never came to fruition in Britain, they eventually took sinister turns in other countries.

The eugenics movement began in the U.S. in the late 19th century. However, unlike in Britain, eugenicists in the U.S. focused on efforts to stop the transmission of negative or undesirable traits from generation to generation. In response to these ideas, some US leaders, private citizens, and corporations started funding eugenical studies. This lead to the 1911 establishment of The Eugenics Records Office (ERO) in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. The ERO spent time tracking family histories and concluded that people deemed to be unfit more often came from families that were poor, low in social standing, immigrant, and/or minority. Further, ERO researchers demonstrated that the undesirable traits in these families, such as pauperism, were due to genetics, and not lack of resources.

Committees were convened to offer solutions to the problem of the growing number of undesirables in the U.S. population. Stricter immigration rules were enacted, but the most ominous resolution was a plan to sterilize unfit individuals to prevent them from passing on their negative traits. During the 20th century, a total of 33 states had sterilization programs in place. While at first sterilization efforts targeted mentally ill people exclusively, later the traits deemed serious enough to warrant sterilization included alcoholism, criminality chronic poverty, blindness, deafness, feeble-mindedness, and promiscuity. It was also not uncommon for African American women to be sterilized during other medical procedures without consent. Most people subjected to these sterilizations had no choice, and because the program was run by the government, they had little chance of escaping the procedure. It is thought that around 65,000 Americans were sterilized during this time period.

The eugenics movement in the U.S. slowly lost favor over time and was waning by the start of World War II. When the horrors of Nazi Germany became apparent, as well as Hitlers use of eugenic principles to justify the atrocities, eugenics lost all credibility as a field of study or even an ideal that should be pursued.

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