UK bioethicists promoting a second wave of eugenics

14/09/2013 23:16

Eugenics is alive and well in British academia. Stephen Wilkinson, of Lancaster University, recently published a long discussion paper, “Eugenics and the Ethics of Selective Reproduction”, together with another bioethicist, Eve Garrard.

Their focus is the moral challenges that IVF and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) offer to parents who want a child of a particular type. After carefully framing the arguments, they endorse: embryo selection techniques to avoid disease and disability in children, selecting embryos to produce a child with a disability such as deafness, and sex selection.

All these are examples of second wave eugenics, in which decisions about the future of a child lie in the hands of parents rather than the state.

But the most interesting part of the paper is their discussion of the use of the word eugenics. Ever since the Nazis implemented their brutal policies of racial and genetic hygiene, use of the word eugenics has been taboo and a shibboleth to rally the opposition.

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