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.
I would say that you are jumping the gun a bit. But the debate should not be dogmatic. You could use the exact same argument against legalizing homofilia in the 50ies mindset: sex certainly influence choice of sexual partners and the current argument is that it is abhorrent.
I don't think the subject is as easy to dismiss just because cosmetics may arise at a later stage. We've always allowed cosmetic alterations, everything from cosmetics to earrings to tummytucks, and it hasn't really become a massive problem of human depravity.
The possible Frankstein scenario is not realistic, nor is it a valid counter.
The problem with a lot of pharmaceutical/medical infrastructure is that we're treating many many diseases under different names, which are in fact simply human ageing. Without religious pro-lifers and without post menopausal life expectancies, most "diseases" would simply not be an issue. When we talk of extending life, really we're talking about extending disease and maintenance costs. There is presently a lot of work being done, philosophically, in outside the breast cancer movement. In the early days, 50 years ago, breast cancers were grossly surgically removed including muscle and other underlying tissues. The beginnings of modern medicine! Today, the surgical removal of breast cancers has seen many improvements. But there are more and more people coming to the conclusion that the present style of research will never find a cure for cancer and all our research is delivering in maintenance.
Proving, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that cancer (given our underlying genetic variation) is environmentally induced may never be proven because the number of interacting factors involved are so complex that no simple yes/no answer will ever be possible. Meanwhile, we Industry interests continue to pollute our lives with impunity with known cancer causing chemicals.
It is an instance when rational debate cannot win. It is a political issue of weighing risks. I remember back in the days when dry-cleaning business and cigarettes "didn't cause cancer", yet today, beyond pure numbers, we have taken the political decisions to extricate these products from our lives. But the road ahead is long and combative, for industry does not give up profits easily.
It is hard to do so without taking away the freedom of each individual. All this traits should be naturally selected instead of being artificially selected ( by the human hand ).
Also, I think in the future there will be no need for this practice since we will be engineering our own genes.