The roots of eugenics can be traced back to Britain in the early 1880’s when Sir Francis Galton generated the term from the Greek word for “well-born”. He defined eugenics as the science of improving stock, whether human or animal. According to the American Eugenics Movement, today’s study of eugenics has many similarities to studies done in the early 20th century. Back then, “Eugenics was, quite literally, an effort to breed better human beings – by encouraging the reproduction of people with "good" genes and discouraging those with "bad" genes.” (www.eugenicsarchive.org) According to Merriam-Webster, the modern day definition of eugenics is, a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed.
The topic of eugenics is a controversial one, but through research it is evident that there are both positive and negative aspects. In 1926, the American Eugenics Society was founded by Harry Crampton, Harry H. Laughlin, Madison Grant, and Henry Fairfield Osborn. The main goal of the organization was to distribute accurate scientific information on genetic health, draw attention to eugenics, and promote eugenic research. “Between 1907 and 1937 thirty-two states required sterilization of various citizens viewed as undesirable: the mentally ill or handicapped, those convicted of sexual, drug, or alcohol crimes and others viewed as degenerate" (Larson).
In late 1994, The Bell Curve was published. The research quoted in the book is taken mostly from members of the American Eugenics Society and other eugenics groups. “The book concludes that all men are not equal, and that the Declaration of Independence is badly worded.” (Clements) The book was generally praised by conservatives and attacked by liberals. The summary of eugenics, was on the best seller list for weeks.
In modern society, eugenics most recently became a hot topic when scientists announced the first successful cloning of Dolly the sheep. Dolly had the exact genetic make up as her mother. This revelation immediately got people talking about the possibility of cloning humans. “If cloning research were pursued, it has been estimated that human cloning could become a practical reality within the next one to two decades.” (Pearson)
Some negative aspects of eugenics include reducing the fertility of persons suffering from low intelligence and physical defects that are deemed as undesirable, and can be passed on to future generations. At the same time, cloning could operate as a form of positive eugenics, increasing the number of births of babies with excellent health and high intelligence.
One thing that many people disagree upon is whether or not eugenics and genetic cloning is ethically right or wrong. On one hand, it could eliminate children being born with life threatening diseases by forewarning parents of potential medical problems. “It is known that hemophilia, albinism, and certain structural...