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Mention of eugenics inevitably results in whoops of horror, gnashing of hair, rending of teeth, and discussion of Hitler. Occasionally, however, matters of importance merit discussion even if they lead to Hitler. If by “eugenics” is meant both the selective breeding of humans and genetic manipulation of ourselves, we will shortly have to discuss it, Fuehrer or no Fuehrer.
To the gnashers and renders, eugenics always involves the killing of genetically inferior children, preferably by uniformed Nazis. A better term for this might be “first-degree murder.” Usually it would be.
On the other hand, medical ambiguities exist. What does one do in the case of genetically-related anencephaly? These babies, literally having no brain, can perhaps be kept alive forever at enormous expense, but nobody is there. What is the correct policy?
Eugenics can mean many things other than the killing of defective babies. Many of us already practice an informal, jackleg, shade-tree eugenics. If kids at CalTech, who are very highly selected for intelligence, marry each other partly in hopes of having intelligent children, this is eugenics.
A woman who goes to a sperm bank and asks for an intelligent donor is practicing eugenics. Is this not completely her business?
All of the foregoing are informal and pretty much under the radar. However, anyone who even casually follows the technical literature knows that we are rapidly approaching the point of being able to manipulate human genetics at the level of DNA.
Read full, original post: The Inevitability of Eugenics