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About Eugenics & Human Biotechnology


Eugenics entails using science and/or breeding techniques to produce individuals with preferred or "better" characteristics.

In the early twentieth century, eugenic ideologies and practices drew on genetic theories of the day in efforts to control human reproduction. This provided scientific cover for policy decisions about who should and shouldn't reproduce—decisions largely informed by discriminatory attitudes toward marginalized groups. In the United States, a widespread eugenics movement led to the forced sterilization of tens of thousands of people considered "unfit," to stringent immigration restrictions on undesired populations, and to public policies that encouraged "fitter families" to produce more children.

Eugenic ideas and rhetoric pioneered in the United States were taken up by the Nazis, who used them to justify their extermination of Jews, people with disabilities, and other groups. The Nazi genocides led to an almost complete rejection of eugenic ideas immediately after World War II.

In recent years, a small but disturbing number of scientists, scholars, and others have begun calling for "reconsideration." Some urge the development of inheritable genetic modification (changing the genes passed on to children) and the expanded use of selection technologies such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Some support these technologies as a way to "seize control of human evolution." Others see them as an efficient, rapid means to produce "enhanced" children.

There are still some traditional eugenicists who focus on purported racial and group differences in intelligence and behavior. But many transhumanists and other eugenicists seek to differentiate their high-tech visions from earlier programs. They say that they reject the racism and government coercion that characterized various twentieth century eugenicists, and argue that market dynamics and individual choice will drive twenty-first century eugenics.



Recruiter Matchtech changes name to Gattaca - same as the hit Hollywood movie about eugenicsby Alan ToveyThe TelegraphJuly 18th, 2016The company claims they did not even consider the connection to the film when they chose the new name.
Eugenics bill passes Houseby Kevin EllisShelby StarJuly 7th, 2016North Carolina bill will ensure eugenics victims’ compensation is not counted as income.
These People Were Likely Victims of a Swedish Eugenics Institutionby Jordan G. TeicherSlateJuly 5th, 2016A photographer highlights the photos of eugenics victims whose stories have been ignored over the years.
The "Outing" of Sperm Donor 9623by Hasmik DjoulakianBiopolitical TimesJuly 1st, 2016A lawsuit by families who used the sperm of a "schizophrenic felon" lands at the complicated intersection of fertility clinic negligence, genetic reductionism, disability, and eugenics.
Eugenics victim still waiting for last paymentby Tim BucklandStar News OnlineJune 25th, 2016North Carolina's fund to compensate victims of its eugenic sterilization program is in limbo, with lawsuits pending.
Did Infamous Tuskegee Study Cause Lasting Mistrust of Doctors Among Blacks?by Aaron E. CarrollThe New York TimesJune 17th, 2016The Tuskegee Study was a horrific instance of racism and injustice in medical research, but racism is a systemic condition of US health care, not an isolated event.
Good riddance to a repugnant California cap on family aidby The Times Editorial BoardThe Los Angeles TimesJune 16th, 2016The “maximum family grant” discouraged women on welfare from having more children.
House votes to expand compensation for eugenics victims by Colin CampbellThe News & ObserverJune 13th, 2016The North Carolina House voted to expand a program to compensate people who were sterilized by the state government from 1929 to 1974.
Testing, testing: Prenatal genetic screeningby Joe GibesTrinity International University June 10th, 2016Confusion and uncertainty surround both the accuracy of prenatal genetic screening and people's understanding of what PGS is.
Unheard Publics in the Human Genome Editing Policy Debateby Elliot HosmanJune 8th, 2016The socially dangerous prospect of using genome editing tools for human reproduction underlies the need for caution in modifying embryos in basic research.
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