Thursday, March 24, 2011

Eugenics in America

In case you are not familiar with the term, eugenics is the belief that we can create a perfect human race, eliminating disease and defects, by controlling who can reproduce. It's a theory that was first put forth by a couple of doctors at the University of Vermont, but was demonized by the Nazi's in WWII. Today, eugenics is considered very far beyond the pale, and just about everyone believes it to be wrong.

But not everyone.

According to pediatrician Stephen Potter of the Children's Hospital in Cincinnati, we could bring eugenics back to America by screening embryos for genetic defects that will lead to further complications. A doctor that treats children and pregnant women thinks that we should allow testing on embryos so that we can discard those with high risk for deformation and illness.

The question has to be asked, then: what are the limits? What constitutes bad genes? Will an embryo with genetic predisposition to something like dwarfism be terminated, even if the likelihood is small and the condition is not life-threatening? And what happens if a parent opts not to kill the embryo? Will they be told that, because they decided to keep their child who has health problems that they will not get financial assistance as it was their choice and they must live with the consequences?

These are serious problems with eugenics, genetic selection, and all the rest of it. I don't think that Dr. Potter's plans will get far, particularly with all the crazed conservatives running around in congressional halls across the country, but it's still a disturbing plan.

2 comments:

Lexi Lou said...

I wrote a blog post on this same article. Will you consider checking out my post as well? http://avidityforempowerment.blogspot.com/2011/03/embryo-screening.html

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!