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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Rosie Zaballos liked to host playtime tea parties and was sweet to everyone she met. But her older brother worried that the 16-year-old, whom her family described as “a little slow,” might someday become pregnant.

In his 30s and married,...

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Nothing like this has happened in human history. A combination of cultural preferences, government decree and modern medical technology in the world’s two largest countries has created a gender imbalance on a continental scale. Men outnumber women by 70 million...

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David Reich, a professor of genetics at Harvard, is the author of a new best-selling book, Who We Are...

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BEIJING — The advertisement for sperm donors was exacting.

No bald men. No hereditary diseases like color blindness. And in...

Men crowded into and on a train in India

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An old type writer with the word "Legislatio" typed out on the first line.

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Chinese flag blowing in the wind

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Neon outline of human head with brain highlighted

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Black and white postcard ca. 1910 showing the Sonoma State Home (Hospital).

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