The etymology of the term eugenics refers to “Good birth”. It’s about the discipline that seeks to apply the biological laws of the inheritance in order to perfect the human species. Eugenics involves an intervention in hereditary traits to help the birth of healthier and more intelligent people.
Proponents of eugenics claim that this practice alleviates suffering (by preventing people from being born with malformations or serious diseases, for example) and allows the society save resources. Its detractors, on the other hand, consider that eugenics is contrary to the ethics and they believe that the manipulation of these biological laws is immoral.
Artificial selection, prenatal diagnosis, genetic engineering and birth control are mechanisms of eugenics. Throughout the storyThis practice has been used as a justification to practice discrimination, force the sterilization of social groups and even exterminate the races or ethnic groups considered as inferior.
Eugenics and xenophobia
Eugenics knew how to enjoy social prestige and was supported by personalities such as Winston churchill Y Alexander Graham Bell. However, based on its connection with the racial policies promoted by the Nazi regime on Germany, this discipline began to be condemned.
The Nazis included in their rhetoric the concept of “Life unworthy of being lived” to promote eugenics in social groups that considered “Deviant” (physically and mentally disabled, homosexual) and “Conflictive” (Jews, Gypsies, Communists). The argument led German scientists to conduct genetic experiments with human beings.
However, the Germans were not the only ones to support eugenics, in countries such as Sweden and the United States, there were also eugenics programs whose objective was to propose a uniform people, with defined features and “thoroughbred.” For this purpose, sterilization programs were carried out to ensure the reproduction of those individuals who had the expected physical and intellectual endowment. Many victims suffered these measures, most of them were alcoholics, epileptics, blind or deaf or women considered promiscuous or criminal. They labeled them as mentally weak and claimed that it was the best way to ensure the future of societies. They also proposed that sterilization was the best solution to poverty.
In the United States there was a case that shook the entire people. In 1924 Carrie Buck, an orphan living in a foster home, was raped by her adoptive parents’ nephew; shortly after she learned that she was pregnant. She was 17 years old and a girl like any other; her adoptive parents placed her in a hospital for epileptics and the mentally ill to prevent his situation from mansillating the family name. Carrie was sentenced to sterilization; but it did not give in easily. He appealed to the Supreme Court of Justice in which he confronted the then director of that hospital. She lost and in 1927 she was sterilized. One of the jury’s arguments was “Three generations of morons are enough” (They were trying to express that the Buck gene was deficient).
This is just one of thousands of stories around eugenics. It’s known that the main reason that led governments to bet on this type of program was racism, sexism and xenophobia; that is, the consideration of the superiority of one race over another. It is enough with resorting to the statistics to verify it.
In Scandinavia, some 63,000 people were sterilized between 1934 and 1975; of which the 90% were women which were considered “inept” to reproduce. Similarly, in the United States, people forcibly sterilized between 1907 and 1960 were mostly African American, so it can be clearly read that the execution of these programs was due to racist issues.