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.

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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.

I think the basic problem is general Population Pollution. The world and it's technology cannot take care of all the unwanted, unloved, abused and uneducated children coming into this world. We need strong education (call it propaganda, if you like) to put the brakes on human reproduction and the human actions that are bringing down this planet. If we can get a handle on the overpopulation, maybe there's a chance we can handle the quality of life. We don't need to be selective about whom to target. And, absolutely, adoption is critical. I get so angry when people cry about all the problems they have had trying to conceive. Such egoism! / As for Population Pollution, it is in crisis in countries where women have few, if any, rights and Testosterone Rules. // Jean Clelland-Morin
Amen to adoption :) it is vastly under-promoted. I was going to cry indignant at your last line, then sat back a second, thought a little, and realised it was true. There is no substitute for empowerment and education within the family unit, as far as family planning goes.

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.

Infanticide rates are highest among adoptees. Pro-lifers promote adoption in lieu of abortion, which I completely disagree with. From the procreative end, adoption is a last resort. No child should be born with adoption in mind.

 

However, many children who have become parentless do need parents and these are the ones who should have priority. Womb rental for selfish breeders should not exist.

Prevention. Education to cut unwanted pregnancies. No child should have to grow up in an orphanage.
I doubt that many parents have children in order to give them up for adoption, and it certainly was not the intention here. But I believe any couple wanting to have a child should look at it as a possible means to the end.
Not an expert, but I imagine that most children who are given up for adoption only had Mr. Testosterone for a father.
That's what we've been doing, treating, treating, treating, to great pharmaceutical profitability. So we can either support the religious status quo of "everyone has right to life", or change our way of thinking...

"At the end of the day our species has done fine without the intervention of eugenisists for millenia"

Yes. The standard modus operandi is to place deformed babies in the forest for the animals and isolate the psychologically handicapped until they die of (self) neglect. If you don't think human solutions are good, take a quick look at nature's. Reductio ad hitlerum isn't a valid counter argument unless all conditions are met.

What if we rename it from eugenics to genetic medicine?

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