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1.the study of methods of improving genetic qualities by selective breeding (especially as applied to human mating)
2.The study of methods of improving the quality of the human race, especially by selective breeding.
EugenicsEu*gen"ics (?), n. The science of improving stock, whether human or animal. F. Galton.
Alberta Eugenics Board • American Eugenics Society • Eugenics Board of North Carolina • Eugenics Record Office • Eugenics in Japan • Eugenics in Sweden • Eugenics manifesto • Eugenics society • Eugenics wars • Family studies in eugenics • First International Eugenics Conference • Heredity in Relation to Eugenics • International Association for the Advancement of Ethnology and Eugenics • International Conference on Eugenics • International Eugenics Conference • Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics • Liberal eugenics • Nazi eugenics • Second International Congress of Eugenics • Second International Eugenics Conference • The Eugenics Council • Third International Eugenics Conference
Eugenics (n.) [MeSH]
théorie scientifique (fr)[Classe]
changer et changement (fr)[Thème]
race pure (fr)[Thème]
(breed; race)[termes liés]
biologist, life scientist[Dérivé]
Eugenics is the "applied science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population", usually referring to the manipulation of human populations. The origins of the concept of eugenics began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance, and the theories of August Weismann. Historically, many of the practitioners of eugenics viewed eugenics as a science, not necessarily restricted to human populations; this embraced the views of Darwinism and Social Darwinism.
Eugenics was widely popular in the early decades of the 20th century. The First International Congress of Eugenics in 1912 was supported by many prominent persons, including: its president Leonard Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin; honorary vice-president Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty and future Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Auguste Forel, famous Swiss pathologist; Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone; among other prominent people.
Eugenics was a controversial concept even shortly after its creation. The first major challenge to eugenics was made in 1915 by Thomas Hunt Morgan, who demonstrated the event of genetic mutation occurring outside of inheritance involving the discovery of the birth of a fruit fly with white eyes from a family and ancestry of the red-eyed Drosophila melanogaster species of fruit fly. Morgan claimed that this demonstrated that major genetic changes occurred outside of inheritance and that the concept of eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was severely flawed.
By the mid-20th century eugenics had fallen into disfavor, having become associated with Nazi Germany. This country's approach to genetics and eugenics was focused on Eugen Fischer's concept of phenogenetics and the Nazi twin study methods of Fischer and Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer. Both the public and some elements of the scientific community have associated eugenics with Nazi abuses, such as enforced "racial hygiene", human experimentation, and the extermination of "undesired" population groups. However, developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised many new questions and concerns about the meaning of eugenics and its ethical and moral status in the modern era, effectively creating a resurgence of interest in eugenics.
As a social movement, eugenics reached its greatest popularity in the early decades of the 20th century. By the end of World War II eugenics had been largely abandoned. Although current trends in genetics have raised questions amongst critical academics concerning parallels between pre-war attitudes about eugenics and current "utilitarian" and social theories allegedly related to Darwinism, they are, in fact, only superficially related and somewhat contradictory to one another. At its pre-war height, the movement often pursued pseudoscientific notions of racial supremacy and purity.
Eugenics was practiced around the world and was promoted by governments, and influential individuals and institutions. Its advocates regarded it as a social philosophy for the improvement of human hereditary traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of certain people and traits, and the reduction of reproduction of other people and traits.
Today it is widely regarded as a brutal movement which inflicted massive human rights violations on millions of people. The "interventions" advocated and practiced by eugenicists involved prominently the identification and classification of individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, promiscuous women, homosexuals and entire racial groups — such as the Roma and Jews — as "degenerate" or "unfit"; the segregation or institutionalisation of such individuals and groups, their sterilization, euthanasia, and in the extreme case of Nazi Germany, their mass extermination.
The practices engaged in by eugenicists involving violations of privacy, attacks on reputation, violations of the right to life, to found a family, to freedom from discrimination are all today classified as violations of human rights. The practice of negative racial aspects of eugenics, after World War II, 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.
The modern field and term were first formulated by Sir Francis Galton in 1883, drawing on the recent work of his half-cousin Charles Darwin. At its peak of popularity eugenics was supported by a wide variety of prominent people, including Winston Churchill, Margaret Sanger, Marie Stopes, H. G. Wells, Theodore Roosevelt, George Bernard Shaw, John Maynard Keynes, John Harvey Kellogg, Linus Pauling and Sidney Webb. Many members of the American Progressive Movement supported eugenics, seduced by its scientific trappings and its promise of a quick end to social ills. Its most infamous proponent and practitioner was, however, Adolf Hitler who praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf and emulated Eugenic legislation for the sterilization of "defectives" that had been pioneered in the United States.
The American sociologist Lester Frank Ward and the English writer G. K. Chesterton were early critics of the philosophy of eugenics. Ward's 1913 article "Eugenics, Euthenics, and Eudemics" and Chesterton's 1917 book Eugenics and Other Evils were harshly critical of the rapidly growing eugenics movement.
Eugenics became an academic discipline at many colleges and universities, and received funding from many sources. Three International Eugenics Conferences presented a global venue for eugenicists with meetings in 1912 in London, and in 1921 and 1932 in New York. Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United States. Later, in the 1920s and 30s, the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in a variety of other countries, including Belgium, Brazil, Canada, and Sweden, among others. The scientific reputation of eugenics started to decline in the 1930s, a time when Ernst Rüdin used eugenics as a justification for the racial policies of Nazi Germany, and when proponents of eugenics among scientists and thinkers prompted a backlash in the public. Nevertheless, in Sweden the eugenics program continued until 1975.
Since the postwar period, both the public and the scientific communities have associated eugenics with Nazi abuses, such as enforced racial hygiene, human experimentation, and the extermination of "undesired" population groups. However, developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised many new questions and concerns about what exactly constitutes the meaning of eugenics and what its ethical and moral status is in the modern era.
The word eugenics derives from the Greek word eu (good or well) and the suffix -genēs (born), and was coined by Sir Francis Galton in 1883 to replace the word stirpiculture (also see: Oneida stirpiculture) which he had used previously but which had come to be mocked by people of culture due to its perceived sexual overtones. Galton defined eugenics as "the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations". Eugenics has, from the very beginning, meant many different things to many different people. Historically, the term has referred to everything from prenatal care for mothers to forced sterilization and euthanasia. To population geneticists the term has included the avoidance of inbreeding without necessarily 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". Much debate has taken place in the past, as it does today, as to what exactly counts as eugenics. Some types of eugenics deal only with perceived beneficial and/or detrimental genetic traits. These are sometimes called "pseudo-eugenics" by proponents of strict eugenics.
The term eugenics is often used to refer to movements and social policies influential during the early 20th 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. Because of its normative goals and historical association with scientific racism, as well as the development of the science of genetics, the western scientific community has mostly disassociated itself from the term "eugenics", although one can find advocates of what is now known as liberal eugenics. Despite its ongoing criticism in the United States, several regions globally practice different forms of eugenics.
Eugenicists advocate specific policies that (if successful) they believe will lead to a perceived improvement of the human gene pool. Since defining what improvements are desired or beneficial is perceived by many as a cultural choice rather than a matter that can be determined objectively (e.g., 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 is a beneficial characteristic and what is 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 often strived for) 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.
Eugenics has also been concerned with the elimination of hereditary diseases such as hemophilia 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 disease or Tay-Sachs disease, which in their heterozygote form may offer an advantage against, respectively, malaria and tuberculosis. Although some birth defects are uniformly lethal, disabled persons can succeed in life. 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 (see also preimplantation genetic diagnosis).
Eugenic policies have been conceptually divided into two categories. Positive eugenics is aimed at encouraging reproduction among the genetically advantaged. Possible approaches include financial and political stimuli, targeted demographic analyses, in vitro fertilization, egg transplants, and cloning. Negative eugenics is aimed at lowering fertility among the genetically disadvantaged. This includes abortions, sterilization, and other methods of family planning. Both positive and negative eugenics can be coercive. Abortion by fit women was illegal in Nazi Germany.
During the 20th century, many countries enacted various eugenics policies and programs, including: genetic screening, birth control, promoting differential birth rates, marriage restrictions, segregation (both racial segregation and segregation of the mentally ill from the rest of the population), compulsory sterilization, forced abortions or forced pregnancies and genocide. Most of these policies were later regarded as coercive and/or restrictive, and now few jurisdictions implement policies that are explicitly labeled as eugenic or unequivocally eugenic in substance. However, some private organizations assist people in genetic counseling, and reprogenetics may be considered as a form of non-state-enforced liberal eugenics.
There are three main ways by which the methods of eugenics can be applied. One is mandatory eugenics or authoritarian eugenics, in which the government mandates a eugenics program. Policies and/or legislation are often seen as being coercive and restrictive. Another is promotional voluntary eugenics, in which eugenics is voluntarily practiced and promoted to the general population, but not officially mandated. This is a form of non-state enforced eugenics, using a liberal or democratic approach, which can mostly be seen in the 1900s. The third is private eugenics, which is practiced voluntarily by individuals and groups, but not promoted to the general population.
The philosophy was most famously expounded by Plato, who believed human reproduction should be monitored and controlled by the state. However, Plato understood this form of government control would not be readily accepted, and proposed the truth be concealed from the public via a fixed lottery. Mates, in Plato's Republic, would be chosen by a "marriage number" in which the quality of the individual would be quantitatively analyzed, and persons of high numbers would be allowed to procreate with other persons of high numbers. In theory, this would lead to predictable results and the improvement of the human race. However, Plato acknowledged the failure of the "marriage number" since "gold soul" persons could still produce "bronze soul" children. Plato's ideas may have been one of the earliest attempts to mathematically analyze genetic inheritance, which was not perfected until the development of Mendelian genetics and the mapping of the human genome.
Other ancient civilizations, such as Rome, Athens and Sparta, practiced infanticide through exposure as a form of phenotypic selection. In Sparta, newborns were inspected by the city's elders, who decided the fate of the infant. If the child was deemed incapable of living, it was usually exposed in the Apothetae near the Taygetus mountain. It was more common for boys than girls to be killed this way in Sparta. Trials for babies included bathing them in wine and exposing them to the elements. To Sparta, this would ensure only the strongest survived and procreated. Adolf Hitler considered Sparta to be the first "Völkisch State", and much like Ernst Haeckel before him, praised Sparta for its selective infanticide policy, though the Nazis believed the children were killed outright and not exposed.
The Twelve Tables of Roman Law, established early in the formation of the Roman Republic, stated in the fourth table that deformed children must be put to death. In addition, patriarchs in Roman society were given the right to "discard" infants at their discretion. This was often done by drowning undesired newborns in the Tiber River. The practice of open infanticide in the Roman Empire did not subside until its Christianization.
Sir Francis Galton systematized these ideas and practices according to new knowledge about the evolution of man and animals provided by the theory of his half-cousin Charles Darwin during the 1860s and 1870s. After reading Darwin's Origin of Species, Galton built upon Darwin's ideas 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; and only by changing these social policies could society be saved from a "reversion towards mediocrity", a phrase he first coined in statistics and which later changed to the now common "regression towards the mean".
Galton first sketched out his theory in the 1865 article "Hereditary Talent and Character", then elaborated further in his 1869 book Hereditary Genius. He began by studying the way in which human intellectual, moral, and personality traits tended to run in families. Galton's basic argument was "genius" and "talent" were hereditary traits in humans (although neither he nor Darwin yet had a working model of this type of heredity). He concluded since one could use artificial selection to exaggerate traits in other animals, one could expect similar results when applying such models to humans. As he wrote in the introduction to Hereditary Genius:
Galton claimed that the less intelligent were more fertile than the more intelligent of his time. Galton did not propose any selection methods; rather, he hoped a solution would be found if social mores changed in a way that encouraged people to see the importance of breeding. He 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:
In 1904 he clarified his definition of eugenics as "the science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race; also with those that develop them to the utmost advantage".
Galton's formulation of eugenics was based on a strong statistical approach, influenced heavily by Adolphe Quetelet's "social physics". Unlike Quetelet, however, Galton did not exalt the "average man" but decried him as mediocre. Galton and his statistical heir Karl Pearson developed what was called the biometrical approach to eugenics, which developed new and complex statistical models (later exported to wholly different fields) to describe the heredity of traits. However, with the rediscovery of Gregor Mendel's hereditary laws, two separate camps of eugenics advocates emerged. One was made up of statisticians, the other of biologists. Statisticians thought the biologists had exceptionally crude mathematical models, while biologists thought the statisticians knew little about biology.
Eugenics eventually referred to human selective reproduction with an intent to create children with desirable traits, generally through the approach of influencing differential birth rates. These policies were mostly divided into two categories: positive eugenics, the increased reproduction of those seen to have advantageous hereditary traits; and negative eugenics, the discouragement of reproduction by those with hereditary traits perceived as poor. Negative eugenic policies in the past have ranged from attempts at segregation to sterilization and even genocide. Positive eugenic policies have typically taken the form of awards or bonuses for "fit" parents who have another child. Relatively innocuous practices like marriage counseling had early links with eugenic ideology. Eugenics is superficially related to what would later be known as Social Darwinism. While both claimed intelligence was hereditary, eugenics asserted 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).
Charles Davenport, a scientist from the United States, stands out as one of history's leading eugenicists. He took eugenics from a scientific idea to a worldwide movement implemented in many countries. Davenport obtained funding to establish the Biological Experiment Station at Cold Spring Harbor in 1904 and the Eugenics Records Office in 1910, which provided the scientific basis for later Eugenic policies such as enforced sterilization. He became the first President of the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations (IFEO) in 1925, an organization he was instrumental in building. While Davenport was located at Cold Spring Harbor and received money from the Carnegie Institute of Washington, the organization known as the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) started to become an embarrassment after the well-known debates between Davenport and Franz Boas. Instead, Davenport occupied the same office and the same address at Cold Spring Harbor, but his organization now became known as the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, which currently retains the archives of the Eugenics Record Office. However, Davenport's racist views were not supported by all geneticists at Cold Spring Harbor, including H. J. Muller, Bentley Glass, and Esther Lederberg.
In 1932 Davenport welcomed Ernst Rüdin, a prominent Swiss eugenicist and race scientist, as his successor in the position of President of the IFEO. Rüdin, director of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Institute for Psychiatry, located in Munich), a Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, was a co-founder (with his brother-in-law Alfred Ploetz) of the German Society for the Racial Hygiene. Other prominent figures in Eugenics who were associated with Davenport included Harry Laughlin (United States), Havelock Ellis (United Kingdom), Irving Fischer (United States), Eugen Fischer (Germany), Madison Grant (United States), Lucien Howe (United States), and Margaret Sanger (United States, founder of Planned Parenthood).
In the United Kingdom, eugenics never received significant state funding, but it was supported by many prominent figures of different political persuasions before World War I, including: Liberal economists William Beveridge and John Maynard Keynes; Fabian socialists such as Irish author George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells and Sidney Webb; and Conservatives such as the future Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Arthur Balfour. The influential economist John Maynard Keynes was a prominent supporter of Eugenics, serving as Director of the British Eugenics Society, and writing that eugenics is "the most important, significant and, I would add, genuine branch of sociology which exists".
Its emphasis was more upon social class, rather than race. Indeed, Francis Galton expressed these views during a lecture in 1901 in which he placed British society into groups. These groupings are shown in the figure and indicate the proportion of society falling into each group and their perceived genetic worth. Galton suggested that negative eugenics (i.e. an attempt to prevent them from bearing offspring) should be applied only to those in the lowest social group (the "Undesirables"), while positive eugenics applied to the higher classes. However, he appreciated the worth of the higher working classes to society and industry.
Sterilisation programmes were never legalised, although some were carried out in private upon the mentally ill by clinicians who were in favour of a more widespread eugenics plan. Indeed, those in support of eugenics shifted their lobbying of Parliament from enforced to voluntary sterilization, in the hope of achieving more legal recognition. But leave for the Labour Party Member of Parliament Major A. G. Church, to propose a Private Member's Bill in 1931, which would legalise the operation for voluntary sterilization, was rejected by 167 votes to 89. The limited popularity of eugenics in the UK was reflected by the fact that only two universities established courses in this field (University College London and Liverpool University). The Galton Institute, affiliated to UCL, was headed by Galton's protégé, Karl Pearson.
One of the earliest modern advocates of eugenics (before it was labeled as such) was Alexander Graham Bell. In 1881 Bell investigated the rate of deafness on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. From this he concluded that deafness was hereditary in nature and, through noting that congenitally deaf parents were more likely to produce deaf children, tentatively suggested that couples where both were deaf should not marry, in his lecture Memoir upon the formation of a deaf variety of the human race presented to the National Academy of Sciences on 13 November 1883. However, it was his hobby of livestock breeding which led to his appointment to biologist David Starr Jordan's Committee on Eugenics, under the auspices of the American Breeders Association. The committee unequivocally extended the principle to man.
Another scientist considered the "father of the American eugenics movement" was Charles Benedict Davenport. In 1904 he secured funding for the The Station for Experimental Evolution, later renamed the Carnegie Department of Genetics. It was also around that time that Davenport became actively involved with the American Breeders' Association (ABA). This led to Davenport's first eugenics text, "The science of human improvement by better breeding", one of the first papers to connect agriculture and human heredity. Davenport later went on to set up a Eugenics Record Office (ERO), collecting hundreds of thousands of medical histories from Americans, which many considered having a racist and anti- immigration agenda. Davenport and his views were supported at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as late as 1963, when his views began to be de-emphasized (racism was no longer popular). Davenport was ultimately replaced as the head of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1969 by James D. Watson, who himself was removed in 2007 as a consequence of his racist remarks.
As the science continued in the 20th century, researchers interested in familial mental disorders conducted a number of studies to document the heritability of such illnesses as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Their findings were used by the eugenics movement as proof for its cause. State laws were written in the late 19th and early 20th centuries 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-20th century. All in all, 60,000 Americans were sterilized.
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In 1907 Indiana became the first of more than thirty states to adopt legislation aimed at compulsory sterilization of certain individuals. Although the law was overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court in 1921, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a Virginia law allowing for the compulsory sterilization of patients of state mental institutions in 1927.
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 (ERO) opened in 1910 while Davenport and Harry H. Laughlin began to promote eugenics.
The Immigration Restriction League (founded in 1894) was the first American entity associated officially with eugenics. The League sought to bar what it considered dysgenic members of certain races from entering America and diluting what it saw as the superior American racial stock through procreation. They 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. The League allied themselves with the American Breeder's Association to gain influence and further its goals and in 1909 established a eugenics committee chaired by David Starr Jordan with members Charles Davenport, Alexander Graham Bell, Vernon Kellogg, Luther Burbank, William Earnest 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.
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 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.) Though their methodology and research methods are now understood as highly flawed, at the time this was seen as legitimate scientific research. 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.
Some states sterilized "imbeciles" for much of the 20th 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. 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.
There are direct links between progressive American eugenicists such as Margaret Sanger and Harry H. Laughlin and racial oppression in the US and in Europe. Harry H. Laughlin wrote the Virginia model statute  that was the basis for the Nazi Ernst Rudin's Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring. Laughlin's assistance to Adolf Hitler's cause resulted in an honorary doctorate from Heidelberg University in 1936. Ernst Rudin also wrote articles on eugenics for Margaret Sanger's Birth Control Review. Sanger stated during work related to her "Negro Project", "The minister's work is also important and he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation as to our ideals and the goal that we hope to reach. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members." While there are two alternatives as to the interpretation of that quotation, Margaret Sanger not only attended, but actually spoke at a New Jersey meeting of the Ku Klux Klan auxiliary.
Such legislation was passed in the U.S. because of widespread public acceptance of the eugenics movement, spearheaded by efforts of progressive reformers. Over 19 million people attended the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, open for 10 months from February 20 to December 4, 1915. 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 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.
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. 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.
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. The Nazis had claimed American eugenicists inspired and supported Hitler's racial purification laws, and failed to understand the connection between those policies and the eventual genocide of the Holocaust.
The idea of "genius" and "talent" is also considered by William Graham Sumner, a founder of the American Sociological Society (now called the American Sociological Association). He maintained that if the government did not meddle with the social policy of laissez-faire, a class of genius would rise to the top of the system of social stratification, followed by a class of talent. Most of the rest of society would fit into the class of mediocrity. Those who were considered to be defective (mentally retarded, handicapped, etc.) had a negative effect on social progress by draining off necessary resources. They should be left on their own to sink or swim. But those in the class of delinquent (criminals, deviants, etc.) should be eliminated from society ("Folkways", 1907). (Compare to ideals in Plato's Republic.)
However, methods of eugenics were applied to reformulate more restrictive definitions of white racial purity in existing state laws banning interracial marriage: the so-called anti-miscegenation laws. The most famous example of the influence of eugenics and its emphasis on strict racial segregation on such "anti-miscegenation" legislation was Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned this law in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia, and declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional.
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. This reduced the number of immigrants from abroad to 15 percent from previous years, to control the number of "unfit" individuals entering the country. While eugenicists did support the act, the most important backers were union leaders like Samuel Gompers 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. 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.
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. 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.
However, several people, in particular Franz Samelson, Mark Snyderman and Richard Herrnstein, have argued, based on their examination of the records of the congressional debates over immigration policy, Congress gave virtually no consideration to these factors. According to these authors, the restrictions were motivated primarily by a desire to maintain the country's cultural integrity against the heavy influx of foreigners.
In the USA, eugenic supporters included Theodore Roosevelt, Research was funded by distinguished philanthropies and carried out at prestigious universities. It was taught in college and high school classrooms. Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood of America to urge the legalization of contraception for poor, immigrant women. In its time eugenics was touted by some as scientific and progressive, the natural application of knowledge about breeding to the arena of human life. Before the realization of death camps in World War II, the idea that eugenics would lead to genocide was not taken seriously by the average American.
The policy of removing mixed race Aboriginal children from their parents emerged from an opinion based on Eugenics theory in late 19th and early 20th century Australia that the 'full-blood' tribal Aborigine would be unable to sustain itself, and was doomed to inevitable extinction, as at the time huge numbers of aborigines were in fact dying out, from diseases caught from European settlers. An ideology at the time held that mankind could be divided into a civilizational hierarchy. This notion supposed that Northern Europeans were superior in civilization and that Aborigines were inferior. According to this view, the increasing numbers of mixed-descent children in Australia, labeled as 'half-castes' (or alternatively 'crossbreeds', 'quadroons' and 'octoroons') should develop within their respective communities, white or aboriginal, according to their dominant parentage.
In the first half of the 20th century, this led to policies and legislation that resulted in the removal of children from their tribe. The stated aim was to culturally assimilate mixed-descent people into contemporary Australian society. In all states and territories legislation was passed in the early years of the 20th century which gave Aboriginal protectors guardianship rights over Aborigines up to the age of sixteen or twenty-one. Policemen or other agents of the state (such as Aboriginal Protection Officers), were given the power to locate and transfer babies and children of mixed descent, from their communities into institutions. In these Australian states and territories, half-caste institutions (both government or missionary) were established in the early decades of the 20th century for the reception of these separated children. The 2002 movie Rabbit-Proof Fence portrays a fictional story about this system and the harrowing consequences of attempting to overcome it.
In 1922 A.O. Neville was appointed the second Western Australia State Chief Protector of Aborigines. During the next quarter-century, he presided over the now notorious 'Assimilation' policy of removing mixed-race Aboriginal children from their parents. This policy in turn created the Stolen Generations and set in motion a grieving process that has become known as the[who?] concept of trans-generational grief, and would affect many generations to come. In 1936 Neville became the Commissioner for Native Affairs, a post he held until his retirement in 1940.
Neville believed that biological absorption was the key to 'uplifting the Native race'. Speaking before the Moseley Royal Commission, which investigated the administration of Aboriginals in 1934, he defended the policies of forced settlement, removing children from parents, surveillance, discipline and punishment, arguing that "they have to be protected against themselves whether they like it or not. They cannot remain as they are. The sore spot requires the application of the surgeon's knife for the good of the patient, and probably against the patient's will". In his twilight years Neville continued to actively promote his policy. Towards the end of his career, Neville published Australia's Coloured Minority, a text outlining his plan for the biological absorption of aboriginal people into white Australia.
The idea of Social Darwinism was widespread among Brazil's leading scientists, educators, social thinkers, as well as many elected officials, in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This led to the "Politica de Branqueamento" (Whitening Policies) set in practice in Brazil, in the early part of the 20th Century. This series of laws intended to enlarge the numbers of the white race in Brazil while reducing the numbers of descendents of African Slaves and Asians made the ground fertile for Eugenic theories.
The first official organized movement of Eugenics in South America was a Eugenics Conference in April 1917, which was followed in January 1918 by the founding of the São Paulo Society of Eugenics. This society worked with health agencies and psychiatric offices to promote their ideas. The year 1931 saw the foundation of the "Comitê Central de Eugenismo" (Central Committee on Eugenics) presided by Dr. Renato Kehl. Among its suggestions were an end to the immigration of non-whites to Brazil, and the spread of policies against miscegenation.
The ideas of the Central Committee on Eugenics clashed with the Whitening Policies of the beginning of the 20th century. While the Whitening Policies advocated miscegenation in order to reduce the numbers of pure Africans in Brazil in favor of mulattos, who were expected to then produce white off-spring - a policy very similar to the "uplifting the Native race" in Australia - the Central Committee on Eugenics advocated no miscegenation at all and separation between the whites and non-whites in Brazil. In fact, these racists did their job too well. When it became obvious that the future of Brazil was in industrialization (just as it was for other countries around the world), Brazil had to face whether they had a working force capable of being absorbed by an industrial society. This was a problem because racist ideology claimed that blacks were not capable of being absorbed by an advanced industrial society.
A new ideology was needed to counter such racist claims. This ideology became known as Lusotropicalism, was associated with Gilberto Freyre, and became popular throughout the Portuguese Empire: specifically, Brazil and Angola. Lusotropicalism claimed that its large population of mixed-race people made Brazil the most capable country in tropical climates to carry out a program of industrialization. Its mixed race population had the cultural and intellectual capabilities provided by the white race, which could not work in tropical climates, combined with the physical ability to work in tropical climates, provided by the African black race. This excluded the fact that white prisoners, working under penal servitude in Puerto Rico, seemed quite capable of working in a tropical environment. As late as 1976, many medical periodicals still discussed the idea of eugenics, such as Revista Brasileira de Enfermagem.
In the first decades of the twentieth century, the work of the Rockefeller Foundation was decisive for the implementation of public health initiatives in Brazil, especially in the so-called public health movement. At that time, Brazilian eugenics was the same as public health, as expressed in the maxim "to sanitize is to eugenize".
In Canada, the eugenics movement gained support early in the 20th century as prominent physicians drew a direct link between heredity and public health. Eugenics was enforced by law in two Canadian provinces. In Alberta, the Sexual Sterilization Act was enacted in 1928, focusing the movement on the sterilization of mentally deficient individuals, as determined by the Alberta Eugenics Board. The campaign to enforce this action was backed by groups such as the United Farm Women's Group, including key member Emily Murphy.
As in many other former British Empire colonies, eugenic policies were linked to racist (and racialist) agendas pursued by various levels of government, such as the forced sterilization of Canada's indigenous peoples and specific provincial government initiatives, such as Alberta's eugenics program. As a brief illustration, in 1928 the province of Alberta started an initiative, "…allowing any inmate of a native residential school to be sterilized upon the approval of the school Principal. At least 3,500 Indian women are sterilized under this law." As of 2011, research into extant archival records of sterilization and direct killing of First Nations youth (through intentional transmission of disease and other means) under the residential school program is ongoing.
Individuals were assessed using IQ tests like the Stanford-Binet. This posed a problem to new immigrants arriving in Canada, as many had not mastered the English language, and often their scores denoted them as having impaired intellectual functioning. As a result, many of those sterilized under the Sexual Sterilization Act were immigrants who were unfairly categorized. The province of British Columbia enacted its own Sexual Sterilization Act in 1933. As in Alberta, the British Columbia Eugenics Board could recommend the sterilization of those it considered to be suffering from "mental disease or mental deficiency".
Although not enforced by laws as it was in Canada's western provinces, an obscenity trial in Depression-era Ontario is a perfect example of this latter province's eugenicism. Dorothea Palmer, a nurse working for the Parents Information Bureau - a well-funded birth control organization based out of Kitchener, Ontario - was arrested in the predominantly Catholic community of Eastview, Ontario in 1936. She was accused of providing birth control materials and knowledge (both illegal in Canada at the time) to the poorer classes of women in the city. The defense at her trial was orchestrated by a well-heeled eugenicist, and industrialist from Kitchener named A.R. Kaufman. Due to his support, Palmer was acquitted in early 1937. The entire ordeal lasted less than a year, and later became known as The Eastview Birth Control Trial. This event had clearly indicated that eugenics was not entirely constrained to western Canada, and is itself a perfect example of the high-water mark for eugenics in Canada.
The popularity of the eugenics movement peaked during the Depression when sterilization was widely seen as a way of relieving society of the financial burdens imposed by defective individuals. Although the eugenics excesses of Nazi Germany diminished the popularity of the eugenics movement, the Sexual Sterilization Acts of Alberta and British Columbia were not repealed until 1972.
Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler was well known 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 research for Otmar von Verschuer carried out by Karin Magnussen using "human material" gathered by Josef Mengele on twins and others at Auschwitz death camp. 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 one American eugenics advocate to seek an expansion of their program, with one complaining that "the Germans are beating us at our own game."
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 could deliver illegitimate children. Allegations that such women were also impregnated by SS officers in the Lebensborn were not proven at the Nuremberg trials, but new evidence (and the testimony of Lebensborn children) has established more details about Lebensborn practices. Also, "racially valuable" children from occupied countries were forcibly removed from their parents and adopted by German people. Many of their concerns for eugenics and racial hygiene were also explicitly present in their systematic killing of millions of "undesirable" people, especially Jews who were singled out for the Final Solution, this policy led to the horrors seen in the Holocaust.
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 post-war years.
Two scholars, John Glad and Seymour W. Itzkoff of Smith College, have questioned the relation between eugenics and the Holocaust. They argue that, contrary to popular belief, Hitler did not regard the Jews as intellectually inferior and did not send them to the concentration camps on these grounds. They argue that Hitler had different reasons for his genocidal policies toward the Jews. Seymour W. Itzkoff writes that the Holocaust was "a vast dysgenic program to rid Europe of highly intelligent challengers to the existing Christian domination by a numerically and politically minuscule minority". Therefore, according to Itzkoff, "the Holocaust was the very antithesis of eugenic practice".
The ideas of eugenics and race were used, in part, as justification for German colonial expansion throughout the world. Germany, as well as Great Britain, sought to seize the colonial territories of other 'dying' empires which could no longer protect their possessions. Examples included China, the Portuguese Empire, the Spanish Empire, the Dutch Empire and the Danish Empire.
"Thus the colonies Germany required for her bursting population, as markets for her overproductive industries and sources of vital raw materials, and as symbols of her world power would simply have to be taken from weaker nations, so the pan-Germans asserted publicly and the German government believed secretly."
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German colonies in Africa from 1885 to 1918 included German South-West Africa (present-day Namibia), Kamerun (present-day Cameroon, Togoland (present-day Togo) and German East Africa (present-day Tanzania. Rwanda and Burundi). Genocide was carried out there, against the Herero people of present-day Namibia and later a programme of research in physical anthropology was conducted using the skulls of .
The rulers of German South West Africa carried out a programme of genocide against the aboriginal Herero people. One of the officials enacting this program was Heinrich Ernst Göring (the father of Hermann Göring), as well as General Adrian Dietrich Lothar von Trotha.
The 1918 British "Bluebook" documented the genocide that took place at Shark Island Extermination Camp and Windhoek Concentration Camp, including photographs. The Bluebook was used as a negotiating tool by the British at the end of World War I to gain control of what had been German Southwest Africa, after Germany was defeated.
Skulls of the Herero were collected from Rehoboth, Namibia in about 1904, for the purpose of demonstrating the supposed physical inferiority of these people. The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute used the Herero skulls by 1928.
The physical anthropologists used measurements of skull capacity, etc., in an attempt to prove that Jews, Blacks and Italians were inherently "inferior" to Whites. Examples of such activity were found from about 1928 at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics. This contrasted with a lot of 19th century German anthropology which was generally more cosmopolitan.
Eugen Fischer of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics and his students carried out "Bastard studies" anthropological studies of mixed race people throughout the German colonial empire, including the colonies in Africa and the Pacific. Fischer also worked with the United States eugenicist Charles Davenport.
As Germany under Bismarck started to create colonies, one of the areas of ongoing interest was in the European East, referred to as "Ost". The European East comprised Poland, but Poland could also include what is now referred to as Ukraine. This Eastern area was looked upon as a colonial frontier, available to German peasants as armed homesteaders. The time period is the late 19th century, but by 1918, this effort at colonialization received new impetus as efforts were being made to create an independent Ukraine. At the end of World War I, Germany lost its colonies (in Africa and the Pacific), leaving German settlers in Africa and the Pacific. As Nazism began to gather strength, people such as Paul Rorhbach (Settlement Commissioner in the lost colony of German South West Africa) began their work once again, to create a new colony in the European German Ost (East).
Rita Hauschild, a doctoral student and then staff member of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Human Heredity, Anthropology, and Eugenics, carried out "bastard studies", anthropometric studies of mixed-heritage populations in Trinidad and Venezuela, in pursuit of the Nazi doctrine of "racial hygiene". Her research was at first confined to Tovar, Venezuela, a former German colony, and was extended to Trinidad with support from the UK Foreign Office. The populations studied, in 1935 to 1937, were "Chinese-Negro hybrids" in Trinidad, "Chinese-Indian" and "Chinese-Negro" "hybrids" in Venezuela. In addition, Johannes Schaeuble engaged in "bastard studies" in Chile. However, German historical foundations to colonies in the New World have a long history. (See German colonization of the Americas.)
In the early part of the Shōwa era, Japanese governments executed a eugenic policy to limit the birth of children with "inferior" traits, as well as aiming to protect the life and health of mothers. The Race Eugenic Protection Law was submitted from 1934 to 1938 to the Diet. After four amendments, this draft was promulgated as the National Eugenic Law in 1940 by the Konoe government. According to the Eugenic Protection Law (1948), sterilization could be enforced on criminals "with genetic predisposition to commit crime", patients with genetic diseases such as total color-blindness, hemophilia, albinism and ichthyosis, and mental affections such as schizophrenia, and manic-depressiveness, and those with epilepsy. Mental illnesses were added in 1952.
The Leprosy Prevention laws of 1907, 1931 and 1953, the last one only repealed in 1996, permitted the segregation of patients in sanitariums where forced abortions and sterilization were common, even if the laws did not refer to it, and authorized punishment of patients "disturbing peace", as most Japanese leprologists believed that vulnerability to the disease was inheritable. There were a few Japanese leprologists such as Noburo Ogasawara who argued against the "isolation-sterilization policy" but he was denounced as a traitor to the nation at the 15th conference of the Japanese Association of Leprology in 1941.
One of the last eugenic measures of the Shōwa regime was taken by the Higashikuni government. On 19 August 1945, the Home Ministry ordered local government offices to establish a prostitution service for allied soldiers to preserve the "purity" of the "Japanese race". The official declaration stated: "Through the sacrifice of thousands of "Okichis" of the Shōwa era, we shall construct a dike to hold back the mad frenzy of the occupation troops and cultivate and preserve the purity of our race long into the future..."
Early in the Japanese administration of Korea, staff at the Japanese Association of Leprology attempted to discourage marriage between Japanese women and Korean men who had been recruited from the peninsula as laborers following its annexation by Japan in 1910. In 1942, a survey report argued that "the Korean laborers brought to Japan... are of the lower classes and therefore of inferior constitution...By fathering children with Japanese women, these men could lower the caliber of the Yamato minzoku". However, eugenics pioneer Unno Kōtoku of Ryukyu University influentially argued based on heterosis in plants that exclusive Japanese endogamy might cause "degeneration" of the Japanese race. Since he regarded intermarriage with white or black people as "disastrous", he advocated intermarriage with Koreans, whose "inferior" physical characteristics would be subsumed by the "superior" Japanese, according to his thinking. Japanese-Korean intermarriage was promoted by the government in Korea using serological studies that claimed to prove that Japanese and Koreans had the same pure ancestral origin.
After independence in the late 1940s, both North or South Korea continued to perpetuate the idea of an ethnically homogeneous Korean nation based on a divine single bloodline. This "pure-blood-ism" (순혈주의) is a source of pride for many Koreans, and informs Korean nationalism, politics, and foreign relations. In South Korea, an ethnic nationalism tinged with pure blood ideology sustained the dictatorships of Syngman Rhee and Park Chung-hee, and it still serves as a unifying ideology, as Brian Reynolds Myers argues, in North Korea. Deep-seated cultural biases originating in eugenics policies result in discrimination against multiracial people in South Korea, according to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Eugenics was one of many ideas and programs debated in the 1920s and 1930s in Republican China, as a means of improving society and raising China's stature in the world. The principal Chinese proponent of eugenics was the prominent sociologist Pan Guangdan, and a significant number of intellectuals entered into the debate, including Gao Xisheng, biologist Zhou Jianren, sociologist Chen Da, and Chen Jianshan, and many others. Chen Da is notable for the link he provides to the family planning policy and One Child Policy enacted in China after the establishment of the People's Republic of China.
In Sweden, the Sterilization Act of 1934 provided for the voluntary sterilization of some mental patients. The law was passed while the Swedish Social Democratic Party was in power, though it was also supported by all other political parties in Parliament at the time, as well as the Lutheran Church and much of the medical profession. From about 1934 to 1975, Sweden sterilized more than 62,000 people.
In absolute figures, Sweden sterilized more people than any other European state except for Nazi Germany. More people were sterilized in 1948 than any other year. However, Finland has sterilised the most per capita of the Nordic countries, and California sterilized approximately the same percentage.
Sweden's large-scale eugenics programme targeted the deviant and the mentally ill. Most sterilizations were "voluntary" (voluntary does not necessarily mean free from persuasion or exhortation). The Swedish government inquiry found that about 30,000 of the 62,000 were sterilised under some form of pressure or coercion. As was the case in other programs, ethnicity and race were believed to be connected to mental and physical health. The Swedish government inquiry denied that the Swedish sterilisation programme targeted ethnic minorities, but did not provide any evidence for this. The Swedish government's claims are contradicted by the experiences recounted by Swedish gypsies and travellers.
There is proof that the programme targeted women. The goal of the program was to decrease deviant offspring. If one member of a family was considered deviant the whole family became the target of an investigation. It was perceived to be easier to persuade a woman to be sterilized than it was to persuade a man. For this reason women were more often sterilized than men, despite the fact that the medical procedure involved in the sterilization was simpler to carry out on a man.
Even as recently as 1996, the Swedish government rejected paying compensation to those who had been sterilized. Following a 1997 series of articles by the Polish-born journalist Maciej Zaremba, in Sweden's largest daily Dagens Nyheter, the issue of compensation for the victims was brought to Swedish and international attention. In 1999, the Swedish government began paying compensation of US$21,000 to the sterilized (and their families) who had "not consented" and had applied for compensation.
Singapore practiced a limited form of eugenics that involved discouraging marriage between university graduates and nongraduates through segregation in matchmaking agencies, in the hope that the former would produce better children; and paid incentives for the uneducated to undergo sterilisation, among other procedures. The government introduced the "Graduate Mother Scheme" in the early 1980s to entice graduate women with incentives to get married, which was eventually scrapped due to public criticism and the implications it had on meritocracy.
Other countries that adopted some form of eugenics program at one time include Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland with programs to sterilize people the government declared to be mentally deficient.
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." 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.
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.
The American Life League, an opponent of abortion, charges that eugenics was merely "re-packaged" after the war, and promoted anew in the guise of the population-control and environmentalism movements. They claim, for example, that Planned Parenthood was funded and cultivated by the Eugenics Society for these reasons. Julian Huxley, the first Director-General of UNESCO and a founder of the World Wildlife Fund was also a Eugenics Society president and a strong supporter of eugenics
[E]ven though it is quite true that any radical eugenic policy will be for many years politically and psychologically impossible, it will be important for UNESCO to see that the eugenic problem is examined with the greatest care, and that the public mind is informed of the issues at stake so that much that now is unthinkable may at least become thinkable. --Julian Huxley
High school and college textbooks from the 1920s through the '40s 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 (1922–94) during the second half of the 20th 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 essay The Tragedy of the Commons.
In the United States, the eugenics movement had largely lost most popular and political support by the end of the 1930s while forced sterilizations mostly ended in the 1960s with the last performed in 1981. Many US states continued to prohibit biracial marriages with "anti-miscegenation laws" such as Virginia's The Racial Integrity Act of 1924, until they were over-ruled by the Supreme Court in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia. The Immigration Restriction Act of 1924, which was designed to limit the immigration of "dysgenic" Italians, and eastern European Jews, was repealed and replaced by the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965.
However, some prominent academics continued to support eugenics after the war. In 1963 the Ciba Foundation convened a conference in London under the title "Man and His Future", at which three distinguished biologists and Nobel laureates (Hermann Muller, Joshua Lederberg, and Francis Crick) all spoke strongly in favor of eugenics. A few nations, notably Sweden and the Canadian province of Alberta, maintained large-scale eugenics programs, including forced sterilization of mentally handicapped individuals, as well as other practices, until the 1970s.
Beginning in the 1980s, the history and concept of eugenics were widely discussed as knowledge about genetics advanced significantly, making practical genetic engineering, which has been widely used to produce genetically modified organisms, with genetically modified foods being most visible to the general public. Endeavors such as the Human Genome Project made the effective modification of the human species seem possible again (as did Darwin's initial theory of evolution in the 1860s, along with the rediscovery of Mendel's laws in the early 20th century). The difference at the beginning of the 21st century was the guarded attitude towards eugenics, which had become a watchword to be feared rather than embraced. Article 23 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities prohibits compulsory sterilization of disabled individuals and guarantees their right to adopt children.
A few scientific researchers such as psychologist Richard Lynn, psychologist Raymond Cattell, and scientist Gregory Stock have openly called for eugenic policies using modern technology, but they represent a minority opinion in current scientific and cultural circles. One attempted implementation of a form of eugenics was a "genius sperm bank" (1980–99) created by Robert Klark Graham, from which nearly 230 children were conceived (the best-known donors were Nobel Prize winners William Shockley and J.D.Watson). After Graham passed away in 1997 funding ran out, and within two years his sperm bank had closed. In the U.S. and Europe, though, these attempts have frequently been criticized as in the same spirit of classist and racist forms of eugenics of the 1930s. Because of its association with compulsory sterilization and the racial ideals of the Nazi Party, the word eugenics is rarely used by the advocates of such programs.
The Bell Curve argued that immigration from countries with low national IQ is undesirable. According to Raymond Cattell, "when a country is opening its doors to immigration from diverse countries, it is like a farmer who buys his seeds from different sources by the sack, with sacks of different average quality of contents".
A similar screening policy (including prenatal screening and abortion) intended to reduce the incidence of thalassemia exists in both jurisdictions on the island of Cyprus. Since the program's implementation in the 1970s, it has reduced the ratio of children born with the hereditary blood disease from 1 out of every 158 births to almost zero. Tests for the gene are compulsory for both partners, prior to church wedding.
Eugenic concerns have been prominent in China for some time, with the PRC's 1950 Marriage Law stating that "impotence, venereal disease, mental disorder and leprosy", as well as any other diseases seen by medical science as making a person unfit to marry, were grounds for prohibition from marriage. The 1980 law dropped all specific conditions bar leprosy, and the 2001 law now specifies no conditions, simply approval by a medical doctor.
Various provinces began to pass laws barring certain classes of people, such as the mentally retarded, from reproducing in the late 1980s. The Chinese Maternal and Infant Health Care Law (1994), which has been referred to as the 'Eugenic Law' in the West, required a health check prior to marriage. Carriers of certain genetic diseases were allowed to marry only if they are sterilized, or agree to use some other form of long-term contraception. Though the requirement for the health check has been dropped at the national level, it continues to be required by some provinces. Local medical doctors make the decision on who is 'unfit' to marry. Much Western comment on the law has been critical, but many Chinese geneticists are supportive of the policy.
In the Chinese province of Sichuan in 1999, a sperm bank called Notables' Sperm Bank, opened, with professors as the only permitted donors. The semen bank was approved by the authority for family planning in the provincial capital Chengdu.
In postwar Japan, the Eugenic Protection Law (ja:優生保護法 Yusei Hogo Hō ) was enacted in 1948 to replace the National Eugenic Law of 1940. The main provisions allowed for the surgical sterilization of women, when the woman, her spouse, or family member within the 4th degree of kinship had a serious genetic disorder, and where pregnancy would endanger the life of the woman. The operation required consent of the woman, her spouse and the approval of the Prefectural Eugenic Protection Council.
The law also allowed for abortion for pregnancies in the cases of rape, leprosy, hereditary-transmitted disease, or if the physician determined that the fetus would not be viable outside of the womb. Again, the consent of the woman and her spouse were necessary. Birth control guidance and implementation was restricted to doctors, nurses and professional midwives accredited by the Prefectural government. The law was also amended in May 1949 to allow abortions for economic reasons at the sole discretion of the doctor, which in effect fully legalized abortion in Japan.
Despite the unambiguous wording of the law, the law was used by local authorities as justification for measures enforcing forced sterilization and abortions upon people with certain genetic disorders, as well as leprosy, as well as an excuse for legalized discrimination against people with physical and mental handicaps.
In Russia, one supporter of preventive eugenics is the president of the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia Yuri Savenko, who justifies forced sterilization of women, which is practiced in Moscow psychoneurological nursing homes. He states that “one needs a more strictly adjusted and open control for the practice of preventive eugenics, which, in itself, is, in its turn, justifiable.” In 1993, the health minister of the Russian Federation issued the order that determined the procedure of forced abortion and sterilization of disabled women and the need for court decision to perform them. The order was repealed by the head of Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation Tatyana Golikova in 2009. Therefore, now women can be subjected to compulsory sterilization without court decision, according to the Perm Krai ombudswoman Tatyana Margolina. In 2008, Tatyana Margolina reported that 14 women with disabilities were subjected to compulsory medical sterilization in Ozyorskiy psychoneurological nursing home whose director was Grigori Bannikov. The sterilizations were performed not on the basis mandatory court decision appropriate for them, but only on the basis of the application by the guardian Bannikov. On 2 December 2010, the court has not found corpus delicti in the compulsory medical sterilizations performed by his consent.
Indiana, Mississippi, and Montana require a blood test prior to marriage. While these tests are typically restricted to the detection of the sexually transmitted disease syphilis (which was the most common STD at the time these laws were enacted), some partners will voluntarily test for other diseases and genetic incompatibilities. Harris polls in 1986 and 1992 recorded majority public support for limited forms of germ-line intervention, especially to prevent "children inheriting usually fatal genetic disease".
Dor Yeshorim, a program which seeks to reduce the incidence of Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, Canavan disease, Fanconi anemia, familial dysautonomia, glycogen storage disease, Bloom's Syndrome, Gaucher disease, Niemann-Pick disease, and mucolipidosis IV among certain Jewish communities, is another screening program which has drawn comparisons with liberal eugenics. In Israel, at the expense of the state, the general public is advised to carry out genetic tests to diagnose these diseases early in the pregnancy. If a fetus is diagnosed with one of these diseases, among which Tay-Sachs is the most commonly known, the pregnancy may be terminated, subject to consent.
Most other Ashkenazi Jewish communities also run screening programs because of the higher incidence of genetic diseases. In some Jewish communities, the ancient custom of matchmaking (shidduch) is still practiced, and some matchmakers require blood tests so that they can avoid making matches between individuals who share the same recessive disease traits. In order to attempt to prevent the tragedy of infant death which always results from being homozygous for Tay-Sachs, associations such as the strongly observant Dor Yeshorim (which was founded by Rabbi Joseph Ekstein, who lost four children to the disease) with the purpose of preventing others from suffering the same tragedy test young couples to check whether they carry a risk of passing on fatal conditions.
If both the young man and woman are Tay-Sachs carriers, it is common for the match to be broken off. Judaism,[dubious ] like numerous other religions, discourages abortion unless there is a risk to the woman, in which case her needs take precedence. The effort is not aimed at eradicating the hereditary traits, but rather at the occurrence of homozygosity. The actual impact of this program on allele frequencies is unknown, but little impact would be expected because the program does not impose genetic selection. Instead, it encourages disassortative mating.
Modern inquiries into the potential use of genetic engineering have led to an increased invocation of the history of eugenics in discussions of bioethics, most often as a cautionary tale. Some suggest that even non-coercive eugenics programs would be inherently unethical. This view has been challenged by such bioethicist critics as Nicholas Agar.
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 "designer babies" (which biologist Lee M. Silver prominently called "reprogenetics"). This 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 20th-century forms of eugenics. Because of its less-obviously[neutrality is disputed] 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. Supporters of eugenics programs note that Francis Galton did not advocate coercion when he defined the principles of eugenics. Eugenics is, according to Galton, the proper label for bioengineering of better human beings, whether coercive or not. Critics[who?] counter that conformity and other social and legal pressures make eugenics programs inherently coercive; an analogous argument can be used against education on the grounds of academic inflation.
An example of such individual motivations includes parents attempting to prevent homosexuality in their children, despite lack of evidence of a single genetic cause of homosexuality. The scientific consensus in America, which stems from the 1956 research of Dr. Evelyn Hooker, is that homosexuality in any case is not a disorder. Therefore, it cannot be treated as a defective trait that is justifiably screened for as part of legitimate medical practice.
Daniel Kevles argues that eugenics and the conservation of natural resources are similar propositions. Both can be practiced foolishly so as to abuse individual rights, but both can be practiced wisely. 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:
Distinguished geneticists including Nobel Prize-winners John Sulston ("I don't think one ought to bring a clearly disabled child into the world") and Watson ("Once you have a way in which you can improve our children, no one can stop it") 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.
Research has suggested that in the modern world, the relationship between fertility and intelligence is such that those with higher intelligence have fewer children, one possible reason being more unintended pregnancies for those with lower intelligence. Several researchers have argued that the average genotypic intelligence of the United States and the world are declining which is a dysgenic effect. This has been masked by the Flynn effect for phenotypic intelligence. The Flynn effect may have ended in some developed nations, causing some to argue that phenotypic intelligence will or has started to decline.
Similarly, Richard Lynn has in the book Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations argued that genetic health (due to modern health care) and genetic conscientiousness (criminals have more children than non-criminals) are declining in the modern world. This has caused some, like Lynn, to argue for voluntary eugenics. Lynn and Harvey (2008) suggest that designer babies may have an important eugenic effect in the future. Initially this may be limited to wealthy couples, who may possibly travel abroad for the procedure if prohibited in their own country, and then gradually spread to increasingly larger groups. Alternatively, authoritarian states may decide to impose measures such as a licensing requirement for having a child, which would only be given to persons of a certain minimum intelligence. The Chinese one-child policy is an example of how fertility can be regulated by authoritarian means.
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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. 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 in Africa where malaria is a common and deadly disease could indeed be a net negative effect. On the other hand, genetic diseases like haemochromatosis can increase susceptibility to illness, cause physical deformities, and other dysfunctions.
A common criticism of eugenics is that "it inevitably leads to measures that are unethical" (Lynn 2001). A hypothetical scenario posits that if one racial minority group is perceived on average less intelligent than the racial majority group, then it is more likely that the racial minority group will be submitted to a eugenics program rather than the least intelligent members of the whole population. In addition eugenics advocates are unlikely to support a system under which they themselves would be subject to culling. H. L. Kaye wrote of "the obvious truth that eugenics has been discredited by Hitler's crimes" (Kaye 1989). R. L. Hayman argued "the eugenics movement is an anachronism, its political implications exposed by the Holocaust" (Hayman 1990).
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 20th 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.
Eugenic policies could also lead to loss of genetic diversity, in which case a culturally accepted improvement of the gene pool could very likely, as evidenced in numerous instances in isolated island populations (e.g. the Dodo, Raphus cucullatus, of Mauritius) 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. (Galton 2001, 48).
Proponents of eugenics argue that in any one generation any realistic program would 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. Proponents of eugenics argue that any appreciable reduction in diversity is so far in the future that little concern is needed for now. The possible reduction of autism rates through selection against the genetic predisposition to autism 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.
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 many carriers for the genes without, or with fewer, phenotypic effects due to that gene. 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.
However, 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 (Tay-Sachs, cystic fibrosis, Canavan's disease and Gaucher's disease), has been decreased in current populations by the application of genetic screening.
Galton and many others claimed that the less intelligent were more fertile than the more intelligent of his time. This is the basis of the movie Idiocracy, in which five hundred years in the future (2505) the dysgenic pressure has resulted in a uniformly stupid human society.
In Star Trek, there are conflicts known as the Eugenics Wars (or the Great Wars) which were a series of conflicts fought on Earth between 1993 and 1996. The result of a scientific attempt to improve the Human race through selective breeding and genetic engineering, the wars devastated parts of Earth, by some estimates officially causing some 30 million deaths, and nearly plunging the planet into a new Dark Age. (TOS: "Space Seed"; ENT: "Borderland")
Also, in the movie Gattaca, a dystopian set of events is portrayed through the application of "artificial selection". This is then shown to be misused by employer and insurance companies and even schools, screening out the "in-valids". Through this, the protagonist, an "in-valid", is shown to go to great heights to reach his dreams of being an astronaut.
In the video game "Grand Theft Auto 4" one of the many in-game advertisements is for "Eugenics Incorporated," a firm that purports to adjust the genetic makeup of a fetus to ensure that all characteristics are ideal.
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