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Eugenics is a the idea of using scientific breeding methods to change the nature of human populations. Just as a pigeon fancier will breed pigeons for fancy feather shapes or faster flying, or a cattle breeder will breed for cows that make more milk so Eugenicists argued that we could and should change the human race.
It was quite a fashionable idea in the late 19th Century and early to mid 20th Century, and had supporters amongst various politicians at the authoritarian end of the Libertarian/Authoritarian spectrum. Conservatives, Fascists, Socialists and Marxists all had ideas as to which human traits they wanted to breed for or breed out.
For liberals the idea is deeply troubling and if done with compulsion, clashes with concepts of human equality, with the right to control our own sexuality and with the right to choose who we do and do not marry or have children with. With the emerging technology of being able to alter our genetic codes already in its infancy, eugenics will become obsolete in the future. Today, genetic testing and abortion can be used as a form of eugenics, which is far more humane than compulsory eugenics under Nazi Germany.
Compulsory Eugenics Edit
Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime are considered the archetypical eugenicists - attempting to wipe out races they deemed inferior and cleanse their own population of various mental and physical disabilities (not all of which were necessarily genetically determined). Since the defeat of Hitler compulsory Eugenics has been reassuringly unfashionable. Still it had some influence on the laws of Apartheid South Africa and sundry other Conservative regimes.
A eugenics issue that hasn't really gone away but is rarely discussed is the reproductive rights of mentally disabled people. In some countries there is institutionalisation and or sterilisation or contraception for people deemed unfit to be responsible for their own lives.
Optional eugenics (Health)Edit
Not all Liberals will agree with this section but cutting it out would be censorship.
With the rise of DNA testing there are various inherited health conditions that pregnant women can have themselves tested for and in many countries they can choose to terminate the pregnancy and try again for a healthy child. Some Conservatives and Bible bashers are wont to argue that this is Eugenics, just like Hitler, and an interference with God's plans to have some people grow up sick miserable and in pain. A Liberal riposte to that would be that what was wrong about Hitler was his use of force to compel people not to have children or indeed life, and that allowing people to choose to have a healthy child rather than a sick one is based on the same ideas of human rights as was opposition to Hitler.
A Social Liberal response would also add in, do we have a proper Universal Health care system so that if they don't want to abort, people can afford to have a disabled child?
Optional eugenics (the Future)Edit
Just as there are people aborting babies in order to choose their gender or to avoid an inherited disease, in the future it is likely that we will have the technology for people to choose other features about their children. How countries legislate about that, and how other countries and international sports bodies legislate for the results of that will be amongst the new controversial issues of the mid 21st Century. We've already had at least one child born to be a tissue donor to an ill sibling, how close are we to finding a country is genetically engineering its future Olympians, and what do we do when we find out?