Was Eugenics Ever Moral? Essay

1370 words - 5 pages

Eugenics is the study or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species. Sounds good, right? But the question here is, is it moral to sacrifice someones life or the ability for someone to create life in the name of science? Surely Francis Galton and Gregor Mendel thought so.

In the nineteenth century, biology was at its peak. Charles Darwin, who just happens to be Galton’s cousin, had just introduced his idea of survival of the fittest. Galton then took that thesis and dissected it. The result of that mess was what we know today as eugenics. The initial proposal was for genetically perfect people to reproduce with others of the same kind. It was believed that mixing the inferior people and the so called perfect beings would “yield a corruption of blood”(Lombardo,8).

It was not until the Civil War ended when America started exploring this new world of genetics. People came up with the belief that “genetics appeared to be the cause behind human social problems - such as pauperism, nomadism, criminality,alcoholism, feeble-mindedness, rebelliousness and prostitution - as the inheritance of defective germ plasm” (Allen,4). As bizarre as this sounds, eugenicists and their wealthy followers swore by this. With this idea in mind, doctors in prison and mental institutions started sterilizing the inmates and patients. Their reasoning for doing this was that it was better to sterilize these genetically impaired people and let them go knowing there won’t be any other generations of that same problem than to keep them locked up under taxpayers dollar.

How could this have been moral? Even Galton, the man who officially named this branch of science called this negative eugenics. These men and women were sterilized without their consent or their families knowledge, but they were poor folks, so nobody really cared they did not have a say in anything. As long as this was done under the name of science it was okay. Also a big factor that made this possible was how all the people who supported this type of treatment were the rich and elite. These were politicians and business owners who practically ran the country. It was unfair to those lower class people who were targeted by these studies. They had nobody to represent them.

Not only the folks in the lower classes were affected by this so called science but immigrants as well. Henry Laughlin, the director of the largest eugenics organization in the beginning of the 20th century, did some research and came up with what he called the ultimate test to see if someone was genetically fit or not. The test was composed of questions american related, when immigrants were given the test, they were bound fail (Meikos,5). Among other bigger reason, eugenics played a role in limiting immigration in the United States after Laughlin presented his results of this research to the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization of the U.S House of Representatives.

What made this so unethical was the...

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