The Eugenics Crusade: What’s Wrong with Perfect?

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“Eugenics” has an ominous ring today, but a century ago it was mainstream science whose enthusiasts included prominent physicians, university presidents, philanthropists, society ladies, public health officials, schoolteachers, and ordinary Americans. They were all, in today’s language, “following the science.” After the horrors of Nazi Germany became known, most people stopped talking about eugenics, but the ideas lived on. In 2022, we rarely hear the word “eugenics,” but similar ideas are on the rise, with considerable support in medical circles.

Join FAIR in Medicine for our webinar, Eugenics: The Curse That Keeps on Cursing, to hear how the timeless desire to “improve” the human race is still with us. Today’s technologies—pre-natal and pre-implantation diagnosis, gene editing with CRISPR, and surrogate pregnancy—would make John Davenport and Francis Galton envious. Such technologies create their own imperative, if not met with a rigorous moral analysis that navigates between uncritical acceptance and reflexive Luddite opposition.

 

The often-sordid history of eugenics in the United States was explored in the 2016 PBS documentary The Eugenics Crusade: What’s Wrong with Perfect? Please watch it at your convenience prior to the webinar; runtime is 120 minutes. (This link is for your use only; to encourage others to participate, please refer them to the webinar registration page).

 

FAIR in Medicine Fellow Mark Buchanan, MD will moderate the webinar. Panelists include William B. Hurlbut, MD, Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Scholar in Neurobiology at the Stanford Medical School, who writes and consults widely on bioethics; and FAIR in Medicine Fellow Robert Graboyes, PhD, a health economist, journalist, and musician who taught at five universities and worked for Chase Manhattan Bank, the Federal Reserve, and NFIB; and Mark Leach, a Louisville attorney and bioethicist who educates professionals and expectant parents about prenatal testing, and leads organizations that support families with a Down Syndrome member.

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