Friday, June 24, 2011

Passive Eugenics

Beefmaster.org
An acquaintance, a disability activist, posted a link to this article on his Facebook page. It's from North Carolina, published by the News-Observer, and it deals with a law in effect in that state until 1970.
The state-funded Eugenics Board determined that certain groups of people - those who were poor, undereducated, mentally unstable - were unfit to carry on the responsibility of parenthood. The phrase it used to described them was "feeble-minded." Social workers were employed to coerce people into sterilization.
From my own cursory reading it seems that "eugenics" was advocated by many of post-Industrial Revolution liberals. For example, social reasoning was behind Margaret Sanger's push for birth control rather than personal choice. Granted, Sanger was not one promoting "positive eugenics" -- wherein many adherents advocated euthanasia. 

If a person has been around farm life, it is difficult to read these stories and not think of the dynamic behind animal husbandry. Animals are continually mated to improve the breed -- crossbreeds for better beef, better milk production, etc. 

We're approaching that mindset, I think, in developed societies. We are set to manipulate the human genome, which could result in some sort of futuristic society of homogeneous beings. 

We're there in some respects: consider the pre-natal testing for Down's Syndrome, a relatively recent but now common test. The abortion rate hovers between eighty-and-ninety percent. What is that but eugenics in the womb? 

Such tests, and subsequent actions, will change society in ways we cannot predict, even in ways different and more complex than areas where female infanticide are (or have been) practiced.

A Brave New World indeed, and one in which no one is born with a disability and those people with disabilities become cyborgs.
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