Eugenics

Eugenics refers to beliefs and practices aimed at producing human beings or populations with preferred or “better” characteristics. In the early twentieth century, eugenic ideas were popular in many countries and across the political spectrum, and provided scientific cover for practices and policy decisions targeting society’s most vulnerable communities. In the United States, these included the forced sterilization of tens of thousands of people considered “unfit,” stringent immigration restrictions, and public policies that encouraged “fitter families” to produce more children. In Germany, the Nazis used similar concepts to justify their extermination of Jews, people with disabilities, and other groups. A century later, many activists, bioethicists, and other scholars are concerned that a new form of eugenics may be on the horizon as market dynamics and individual choice, rather than government policies, drive decisions about our use of human genetic technologies.


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Photo from Belly of the Beast, used by permission

Yesterday, California became the third state in the nation to provide reparations to survivors of coerced sterilization under 20th century eugenics laws, and the first state to both notify and compensate those sterilized involuntarily in state women’s prisons. Governor Newsom signed a budget that includes $7.5 million for this program, which will provide up to $25,000 per survivor, as well as funds for plaques and markers raising awareness about...

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Last month, Caltech announced that the names of six men with historical ties to the university would be removed from all“campus buildings, assets, and honors.”This unnaming came as the institution renounced its historical connections to the Human Betterment...

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At the turn of the 20th century, U.S. scientists proposed the control of reproduction to advance society based on the...

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In late 2018, UC Berkeley bioethics professor Osagie K. Obasogie received a campus email about a research fund available to...

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Autism awareness image

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a banner saying eugenics over a tree

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Women protesting with signs that read "stop abortion bans"

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