.. orn or even fertilized. In this way, a doctor can see that a child will have a genetic disorder and can prepare the parents for the child’s birth. The general term for these practices is genetic counseling. This is an umbrella term which includes in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling. In vitro fertilization and artificial insemination are techniques that were originally created in order to overcome infertility among couples.
In vitro fertilization involves fertilizing an egg outside a woman’s body and later inserting it into the uterus. Artificial insemination involves placing sperm inside a female in order to fertilize an egg. Due to eugenic ideals, these techniques have become a way of producing racially or intellectually superior children. For example, Hermann J. Muller, an American Nobel-prize winning biologist suggested that a few outstanding males could be used for breeding with many women.
This would create many strong, beautiful and intelligent children. This led to Robert K. Graham’s suggestion to keep Nobel-prize winners’ sperm frozen in sperm banks such as his 1971 Hermann J. Muller Repository for Germinal Choice, dedicated to his mentor. Amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling are surgical procedures that help determine if a ftus will be healthy after birth. Amniocentesis consists of extracting some of the amniotic fluid using a needle.
The liquid contains some shed cells from the ftus and therefore can be evaluated to see if there are any genetic disorders. Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is essentially the same thing but instead of extracting liquid, a piece of the membrane surrounding the ftus is removed and evaluated. Another difference is that amniocentesis can only be performed five months into the pregnancy whereas CVS can be used only 9 weeks after fertilization. Amniocentesis and CVS have also become eugenic procedures as the main concern of doctors is if the parents should have the baby. Most genetically unfit ftuses end up being aborted. Therefore, the unfit are rejected which is a characteristic of eugenics.
Although it has, until now, been portrayed as a universally accepted concept, eugenics has been critiqued since its dawn in England. For example, scientists have rejected it because of its unscientific practices and pro-life advocates rejected its use of abortion. Even though these groups have slightly different perspectives on the issue, one can see that they all have the same basic concern. They want eugenics, as it has been practiced until now, to be abolished. Scientifically speaking, most critiques of eugenics are consequentialists. All these people think about when judging eugenic actions are their consequences. The main scientific objection to eugenics is the fact that human crossbreeding is a great contributor to genetic variation.
By having many different types of genes, a human can more easily adapt to its environment. However, if a pure race is produced, many of the genes responsible for effective adadtation may disappear from the human gene pool. In this way, in the future, humans could not adapt to an increased global temperature, for example, and the population could be severely depleted. Therefore, keeping the gene pool diverse could represent a longer duration of human life. Similarly, there is a belief that genes that are harmful in the homozygous (double dose) state, they may be helpful in the heterozygous (single dose) state. Therefore, removing these genes from humanity by sterilizing or killing all carriers may be harmful to other people who could benefit from the heterozygous state of the gene. Before scientists can begin to eliminate certain genes, they must know exactly what role each gene plays in an individual. It is perhaps possible to obtain this information, but humanity is very far from achieving this type of knowledge.
Therefore, scientists should let nature take its course as people have done for millions of years. There is also a concern that gene mutations can be eliminated in other ways instead of eliminating the genes themselves. For example, it has been discovered that radiation is a great contributor to gene mutations. North Americans might think that this only applies to victims of Hiroshima but in fact, X rays such as those in all North American hospitals and doctors’ offices, have much greater mutative effects on a population gene pool than that of Hiroshima. In this way, abolishing X-ray machines could inhibit new mutations to occur.
Thus, eugenic practices would be unnecessary. The Catholic Church also rejects most eugenic practices. John-Paul II once wrote that No biologist or doctor can reasonably claim, by virtue of his scientific competence, to be able to decide on people’s origin and destiny(John Paul II, p.14). In essence, this is what eugenicists do. They judge who should live and who should die. The Pope also wrote that no one can, in any circumstance, claim for himself the right to destroy directly an innocent human being(John Paul II, p.
16). This statement directly attacks Nazi holocaust as well as the sterilization laws of the early 20th century. By sterilizing a person, one is essentially destroying the lives of future children. As stated earlier, no doctor can decide if these children should be born or not, therefore eugenic sterilization is essentially wrong. These opinions are rooted deeply in the Catholic Faith as it is believed that all humans are the temples of God and that they are created in his image.
The body as it is in nature thus must be the standard of biological good. In this way, any genetic tampering or physical harm inflicted on the body is actually interfering with what God wants for human beings. Therefore, Catholics believe that eugenics is iniquitous. Catholics also have a strong opinion on natural human rights. For example, the Charter of the Rights of the Family, published by the Holy See, states that, Human life must be absolutely respected and protected from the moment of conception(Holy See, 4).
This statement places a delicacy upon the modern eugenic practices such as amniocentesis and artificial insemination. These customs could be regarded as sinful by the above statement as it is interference with the natural birth process devised by God. However, therapeutic interventions such as the ones mentioned are not completely wrong, according to Pope John Paul II. He stated in 1983, at the 35th General Assembly of the World Medical Association that, A strictly therapeutic intervention whose explicit objective is the healing of various maladies such as those stemming from chromosomal defects will, in principle, be considered desirable, provided it is directed to the true promotion of the personal well-being of the individual without doing harm to his integrity or worsening his conditions of life. Such an intervention would indeed fall within the logic of the Christian moral tradition.
(John Paul II, p. 22) The problem though is the fact that the eugenic use of therapeutic intervention usually leads to abortion. Therefore, the Catholic Church disapproves of eugenics, and its use of intervention on ftuses. As seen, the eugenic movement is completely opposed to the beliefs encouraged by the Catholic Church. Some people would say that the Church is exaggerating its conservative values, which tends to be a common comment these days, but when one truly thinks about what the Church is opposing, one can see that its objections are well conceived. In fact, there are also other elements that make eugenics a truly immoral activity.
Perhaps the foremost problem with eugenics is the fact that the people in charge of the projects decide the fate of others. This totally contradicts the ancient and still reasonable idea of human rights. By these rights, an individual is allowed to make his own choices that determine the fate of himself and his family. In a eugenic system, the whole population is considered a whole body. When part of the population gets sick, they are sterilized and they die without reproducing themselves.
This is like cutting off a baby finger when it is diseased; it does not hurt the whole body . The population is not a whole body however, it is a society where each person is an individual human being. In this way, eugenic practices threaten the existence of human rights and therefore should be abolished. Eugenics is also a very useful science for powerful villains. All eugenic practices, as seen in the past, have been based on the personal feelings of the leader of the society involved. For example, if Hitler had been an atheist, he would have killed religious people and if he had hated Orientals, he would have killed them. Eugenics seems to be an easy way for powerful people to act against their enemies. This is wrong since no person has the right to expose another person to suffering or death simply because of who they are.
This is truly prejudiced and without a doubt immoral. Unfortunately, some people disregard this natural right. Racism is a big part of eugenics as well as eugenicists determine that a certain group is more fit to live than another. This means that some individuals are more important than others. Since God created all humans equal, then it is outright impossible for a person to be inferior to another. Therefore racism is iniquitous and should not be a part of eugenics.
However, it is difficult to have eugenics without racism. If a perfect race was discovered, the unforgettable fact is that no sane person would accept his own to be inferior. Even if it was proven by legitimate tests, that person would do anything to avoid suffering, which, for the racially unfit, is the ultimate end of eugenic practices. As a result, whoever is the authority of the research tests will ultimately choose another race to be eliminated. Therefore, there is extreme racism when eugenics comes into people’s heads.
Biologically and ecologically speaking, eugenics is a very uncertain practice. Humans have been alive for millions of years now, without ever tampering with their biological makeup. They simply let nature do its job. Now, by looking at everything that humans have developed, one can then see that letting evolution function by itself is not a bad thing. In fact, it is probably the wisest thing to do.
Scientists tend to think that they know all the consequences of eugenic practices but actually, this is impossible. The human being and its society are too complex for people to know the effect of every minute change. A small variation in the gene pool could cause some major problems. Therefore, humans should simply let nature do its job in preserving the life of humans, just as it has for millions of years. Who knows, scientists might be lowering the survival rate of humanity by tampering with its natural biological processes. As seen, because eugenics is biologically unsound, encourages racial inequality and includes immoral actions, eugenics is iniquitous and should no longer be performed.
If eugenics ever became a driving force in society, there would be racial, biological and moral disputes everywhere. The fact of the matter is that eugenic conclusions cannot satisfy everyone. There must be a triumphant party as well as a failing one. Naturally, the failing group would not give up its fight and larger disputes would arise. Ultimately, this could lead to World War III, and, considering the presence of nuclear weapons, the destruction of the world.
In this way, the science concerned with the amelioration the condition of humanity would ultimately be responsible for its destruction. Bibliography BIBLIOGRAPHY Chase, Allan The Legacy of Malthus: the Social Costs of the New Scientific Racism New York: The Random House, 1976. Eugenics New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1st Edition (1967), Volume V, pp. 627-629. Garrigan, Owen Man’s Intervention in Nature New York: Hawthorn Books, 1967.
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