I have some pretty strong feelings about eugenics (it's a good and necessary practice), but I find it very, VERY difficult to talk about it with anyone since I'm instantly labeled a Nazi for supporting it. I'm hoping the folks on Think Atheist will be more inclined to intellectual discussion than name-calling and dismissal.
The start off, some disclaimers: genocide is wrong; taking human rights away from people of a race/religion/hairstyle you don't like is wrong; concentration camps are wrong; violence in wrong.
There. Now to the actual discussion.
When I talk about eugenics, I'm talking about the practice of systematically removing debilitating genetic traits and defects from a population by means of regulating the reproduction of its citizens. Do you have Schizophrenia? Did you know that this ailment is genetic and very easy to pass on to you children? Please, do not punish an innocent child with this problem. Are you genetically healthy, intelligent, and talented? Do you have special immunities that make you less likely to get sick? By all means, spread these traits to future generations, either by having children yourself or donating to a sperm or egg bank. Do you want children but should not carry your genetic problems onto them? Adopt. Adoption will always be available no matter what the society (just because someone has good genetic material does NOT mean they would make a good parent). Do you say that adoption is not the same? Then I suppose you care more about satisfying your selfish desires than the well being of a child.
Eugenics is, at its base, very simple - think about the future first.
I'm leaving this post now for what I'm hoping will be thoughtful and anti-inflammatory discussion.
My idea for implementing the system - which seems to have gotten lost in all the replies - was to offer people the chance for free vasectomy/tubal-ligation upon making a donation to a publicly maintained Genobank. That, in an of itself, would offer a LOT of motivation to women living in poverty. Whether or not they take advantage of screening when they do have children is actually secondary.
Removing publicly managed (I'll use 'managed' rather than 'funded', because I agree that it is more accurate) education would simply result in fewer people receiving formal education - and could very likely lead to many more Christian funded schools, which I think we should both agree would not be a good idea. Private health care has failed to provide health care to the masses, and there is no reason to think private education would be any better.
Well you didn't ask about the 'genobank' part of my idea - that being that there would be a facility for maintaining eggs/sperm for future use. Yes, publicly managed, meaning tax dollar funded, just like the education system but alleviating some of the burden on the education system.
Secondly, imagine an education system absent of maybe 60% of unplanned children and you might be solving a lot of the problems you are talking about there. The system is horrible, but better than no education at all - why not look at historical stats on literacy. Having tutored adult literacy I feel I can confidently say that the obstacles faced by those without literacy are far more profound than most people realize. The benefits of criminal activities go way up when one cannot meet the literacy requirements of the work force.
Space is not wanting because few people can afford it - or do not make it a priority financial choice, which is the entire point of a publicly managed/funded system. Few women living in poverty with 2,3,4, or more children have actually chosen that situation for themselves - they've wound up there through lack of ability to stand by good choices, something that tubal ligation/stored eggs would offer them.
The change wouldn't happen overnight, and neither did the increase in literacy through publicly managed/funded education. Literacy rates did increase though - dramatically. I can argue, and defend at length, that it was that increase in literacy that prevented the sort of proletariat uprising predicted as inevitable by Marx.
Systems that increase social mobility greatly decrease potential social entropy by allowing exchanges between the proletariat and bourgeoisie classes. There is obviously a significant cost to maintaining such an illusion of egalitarianism, but that cost is generally lower than keeping the gate shut to the masses. You can, obviously, take the approach of hiring half of the poor to kill/subdue the other half, but that entails long term commitments as well. Essentially, if you want to move toward survival of the fittest in a capitalist system then you need to accept the fact that those whose most beneficial adaptations are for the physical procurement of capital will outnumber those whose most beneficial adaptations are intellectual - a very dangerous proposition unless you are adapted for both.
I had tubal ligation at age 30, after three abortions between ages 28 and 30, while on contraception(s). I had been requesting sterilisation since age 14. The patriarchal medical institutions need to stop treating women like breeders. If we say we want sterilisation that should be sufficient.
Sterilisation should be free, for pets and humans. Re-attachment should have costs.
Vasectomy is 95% reversible, this without medical/political will power. If we brought this topic to the forefront of family planning medicine, we could easily achieve 99.99% of reversibility.
I would condone vasectomies at birth, in lieu of circumcisions at birth.
I have agreed with this idea all along, when I realized how remarkable, ethical, and good for us it will be one day, when we can control the genetic alleles that cause so much suffering and decrepitude, and disease. I have mental illness, and I worry about my kids getting that allele, or set thereof. I'm no scientist, but it makes logical sense to care for our species, in this way. I often imagine what my life would have been like, if I did not have to suffer to the degree I do, and I'd take it in a heart beat, that is, not to have this illness.
Also we should, as a species, start thinking in terms of QUALITY of living, which western countries do to a degree. But there is still rampant procreation everywhere, but isn't the ethical thing to do, be focus on having fewer children, who are much healthier, and live much better lives, than just churning children out like we have done since the dawn of humankind? I have so much to say on this, but, focusing on bringing our children up healthy, I think has a direct correlation with having fewer children, as we can spend much more time, keeping them healthy...the very act of being alive carries with it enormous responsiblity...look at this just last decade or so. Only now, are we addressing, even just a little bit, how many people live in a diseased state, many of which inherited it, and others who did not. I'm simply saying, either way, we need to focus on health, far far far more than we have.
Who decides who gets to pass on their genes or not? That's a slippery slope without a rope.
In cases where genetic engineering can determine, in utero, if a fetus will have an inheritable disease or handicap, I can understand the parents desire to use that technology. The main problem with this is that it will tend to be only the rich or well-to-do who have access to such technology. Another problem is that, given further improvements in the technology, we could see a future race of designer babies who can look forward to lives with less disease and more physical and mental prowess -- at the expense of those who aren't genetically designed. Oh yeah, and don't forget the Gattaca scenario in which schools, jobs and other social institutions select you based on your genetic advantages (or lack thereof).
yea, I've sort of concluded, that it will be human greed, selfishness that will mess this all up. If people learned how to be compassionate, that's another story, but it's been 5000 years or so of civilization, and we are certainly not learning this fast enough, if at all, even in supposedly more humane countries.
The Gattaca scenario is already happening, in the sense of those lucky enough to have fewer problems, or very little health related, and I would also emphasize, intelligence problems, are literally taking over the planet, and obviously always have been. Oh, and those without illness who are fortunate to grow up in the good parts of the world, have the world in their oyster...and even they continue to screw the other fortunate ones, while always screwing the misfortunate ones.
My dad was actually adopted, and if he hadn't I wouldn't be here. My position on adoption is therefore heavily biased in favor.
On the other side, my sister+ is now in the adoption process after many years of trying themselves. There's been a lot of complaining, but I don't think we should dismiss it as complete egotism of the person, rather a long drawn out debate between nurture and nature, and applaud those who end up going against nature.