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About Eugenics & Human Biotechnology


Eugenics entails using science and/or breeding techniques to produce individuals with preferred or "better" characteristics.

In the early twentieth century, eugenic ideologies and practices drew on genetic theories of the day in efforts to control human reproduction. This provided scientific cover for policy decisions about who should and shouldn't reproduceódecisions largely informed by discriminatory attitudes toward marginalized groups. In the United States, a widespread eugenics movement led to the forced sterilization of tens of thousands of people considered "unfit," to stringent immigration restrictions on undesired populations, and to public policies that encouraged "fitter families" to produce more children.

Eugenic ideas and rhetoric pioneered in the United States were taken up by the Nazis, who used them to justify their extermination of Jews, people with disabilities, and other groups. The Nazi genocides led to an almost complete rejection of eugenic ideas immediately after World War II.

In recent years, a small but disturbing number of scientists, scholars, and others have begun calling for "reconsideration." Some urge the development of inheritable genetic modification (changing the genes passed on to children) and the expanded use of selection technologies such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Some support these technologies as a way to "seize control of human evolution." Others see them as an efficient, rapid means to produce "enhanced" children.

There are still some traditional eugenicists who focus on purported racial and group differences in intelligence and behavior. But many transhumanists and other eugenicists seek to differentiate their high-tech visions from earlier programs. They say that they reject the racism and government coercion that characterized various twentieth century eugenicists, and argue that market dynamics and individual choice will drive twenty-first century eugenics.



Why We Should Teach the History of Eugenicsby Jonathan ChernoguzBiopolitical TimesOctober 28th, 2014Two prominent universities have launched initiatives to focus on the history of eugenics.
How the Pro-Choice Movement Excludes People With Disabilitiesby Lenzi SheibleRH Reality CheckOctober 17th, 2014If we in the pro-choice movement donít start paying serious attention to the ways in which our own practices contribute to the dehumanization of people with disabilities, we canít keep claiming to operate under a reproductive justice framework at all.
When Racism Was a Scienceby Joshua A. KrischThe New York TimesOctober 13th, 2014Haunted Files: The Eugenics Record Office recreates a dark time in a laboratory's past.
Eugenics: The Academy's Complicityby Nathaniel Adam Tobias ColemanTimes Higher EducationOctober 9th, 2014The University of London will face up to its complicity in constructing unjust racial hierarchy, 110 years to the day that the university legitimised Francis Galton's research on eugenics.
Reproducing Raceby Dov FoxThe Huffington PostOctober 6th, 2014It is troubling for donor services to accentuate race in ways that invite parents to exclude wholesale from their consideration all donors of a particular race.
State to Send Out About 200 Eugenics Paymentsby Meghann EvansWinston-Salem JournalOctober 1st, 2014The first eugenics compensation payments are to be sent out by Oct. 31, and a second payment will be sent to victims next year.
The Troubling Persistence of Eugenicist Thought in Modern America by Michael Brendan DoughertyThe WeekSeptember 30th, 2014We no longer talk of "unfit" children, but we'll still destroy them in the name of quality of life.
California Bans Coerced Sterilization of Female Inmatesby Corey G. JohnsonCenter for Investigative ReportingSeptember 26th, 2014Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that protects prisoners in county jails, state prisons and other detention centers, after many abuses were uncovered.
An End to Sterilization Abuses in California Prisonsby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesSeptember 26th, 2014The signing of SB 1135 into California law by Gov. Jerry Brown is an important victory in the fight for the remembrance of our state's eugenic history and its ongoing implications.
Arizona GOP Official Resigns After Controversial Commentsby Sean SullivanWashington PostSeptember 15th, 2014Russell Pearce is out after controversial comments about contraception, sterilization and Medicaid.
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