Eugenics: Conflict Between Morals & Ethics
Eugenics has a long history behind its name, the term came to be in the late 1800s and was known by everyone by 1923. Eugenics derives from the greek word “eu” which means good and “genos” which means offspring. Eugenics is basically an idea that we can improve human hereditary traits and we can do so by reproducing more “preferred” people and traits over less “desired” ones. Nazi Germany saw Eugenics as a good way to exterminate lots of people and hopefully eliminate races that were found “unfit.” Many people fell victim to eugenics due to them either being black, alcoholics, homosexuals, alcoholics, criminals, etc. They were either incarcerated, hospitalized, or even sterilized. There are many ethical and moral issues with eugenics that I will touch on in this paper. The thing you have to understand about eugenics is that there were many people behind the movement including; the president, liberals, conservatives and even catholic churches. There were many eugenic practices including; genetic screening, birth control, marriage restrictions, immigration control, and sterilization.
To start off, immigration laws were one of the first signs of eugenics in the United States. The very first American group to be associated with eugenics was The Immigration Restriction League, this group was formed by three Harvard students whose sole purpose was to keep “inferior races” from entering. Eugenics also played a role in congressional debate and this happened in the Immigration act of 1924. The law made clear that there was a hierarchy of nationalities and some races were almost banned from the country due to it. This brings me to my next point of who was deemed “fit”. Of course, class and race played a factor on who was fit and unfit but there were also other factors. One of those being social status and some others being middle-upper class which were usually white.
Most people who were poor were seen as unfit and were put into the unfit class. Middle upper-class women would be denied birth control because they wanted them to produce more individuals that has traits like them. Lower class women were discouraged from reproducing because they didn’t want those types of individuals to be around anymore. Most of the time poor women would be forced to use birth control due to this. Lots of women were also sterilized to prevent them from having any more children. Men were also sterilized but the reason for their sterilization was to treat aggression and also to eliminate criminal behavior. Lots of physician were told to do this to patients without a patient’s knowledge these patients were obviously seen as the “unfit” class and had several traits such as being poor and colored.
Pros and cons of eugenics
There are many pros and cons when it comes to ethical issues regarding eugenics, It can be seen as a good thing because it could asses a child’s medical needs prior to the child being born. This could be beneficially to children who have medical issues that could be helped during pregnancy. Eugenics can also prevent disease, negative hereditary conditions that led a child to deformities and or mental/physical problems could be avoided. Eugenics could also let parents choose the gender of their child and this could benefit either them or the family to their liking. The main idea with eugenics was to create better people who are smarter and can help the world become a better place in the long run. With all these pros, there are also many cons. One of those could be the price of eugenics, it can be very expensive to do the whole eugenics process due to the technology that goes along with it.
Another problem that can come with eugenics is ending human diversity, eugenics could modify diversity and make one “superior” race because as we know diversity is made with natural mutations that occur in the genes. Discrimination happens every day in our world this we know, but if eugenics was really allowed this would make it that much worse. I say that because the people who are natural babies with no modifications would obviously look a lot different than the “superior” or “fit” race. This could lead to a divide in society that could cause even greater problems in the future. I just feel that eugenics is a form of racism just because of how it is related to the Nazis way of thinking, they did some really bad experiments to people just so that white race could be the superior race and I think that eugenics could lead to another divide of that sort if it were put in place. an ethical issue that can be drawn from eugenics is that it can be seen as a way of lessening hard work and values and focusing more on genes.
In my opinion, I think eugenics is a great finding and the fact that we are capable of changing genes and possibly changing diversity is just mind blowing to me. It is pretty crazy to think that it is a viable option nowadays. I do think that the eugenics movement has the best intentions in it because of how people are concerned with making a better world and better individuals although I do believe there are several determining factors that could make eugenics a really bad choice. I think that if eugenics were done correctly and by correctly, I mean equal to all and everyone having availability to it, I think it would be a great thing only because our world is changing so rapidly and we as humans need to adapt at a rather quick pace to changing systems. I think that eugenics definitely has good aspects to it but at the same time it could go south really fast if we don’t handle it correctly and with the proper procedures needed for something this big.
- Black, E. (n.d.). The Horrifying American Roots of Nazi Eugenics. Retrieved from https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/1796
- Court, M. V. (n.d.). The Case for Eugenics in a Nutshell. Retrieved from http://eugenics.net/papers/caseforeugenics.html
- Helix Magazine. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://helix.northwestern.edu/article/modern-eugenics-building-better-person