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Mar 6 - Eugenics Lecture.docx

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Health Sciences
Health Sciences 2610F/G
Ken Kirkwood

HS 2610 Eugenics March 6, 2014 • The word “eugenics” was coined in 1883 by Sir Francis Galton • Eu meaning good and genes means born • “The science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race; also with those that develop to them to the utmost advantage.” – Galton, Eugenics: It’s Definition, Scope and Aims Plato (ca. 427 – 347 B.C.) • In The Republic, discusses the need to supply society with genetically improved human beings and how this could be done. Rome and Sparta • Infanticide to weed out “weak babies” • Kill babies with genetic issues • Because there is a chance that they might have children someday and pass this problem on • Disabled with take more than their fair share of resources Two Types of Eugenics • Positive Eugenics – measures to increase reproduction in families with desirable traits (i.e., encouraging the “fit” to have more children) – trying to do things to promote a better or more fit child • Negative Eugenics – Measure to limit reproduction in families with undesirable traits (e.g., sterilization via vasectomy and tubal ligation). Negative eugenics was the predominant view – cutting off the sources Eugenics Was Influenced By… • Origins of Species: Natural Selection – we could be able to maximize evolution • “Survival of the fittest” • Mendel’s studies on the inheritance of traits • Agriculture/Animal breeding Father of Eugenics • Charles Davenport, credited with the popularization of eugenics • Relied heavily on Mendel’s work • Respectable studies on eye color, hair color, hair texture, and pigmentation • BUT, goes on to complex human traits like intelligence In the Past • Promoting eugenics as a way to have healthier society in the future • Contests – eugenic contests to see whose family was fittest – the family who was fittest won prizes • How is their behavior? Beliefs? • You have a healthy society, and you bring in with people from all over of different cultures and you’re going to see cross-breeding and you’re going to see weakened genetic children because of this • This was not racism – this was the American Medical Association • They genuinely believed that people of other cultures and religions coming into a place of just “Whites” are genetically inferior (i.e., laziness) Helen MacMurchy • Who was in 1915 became Ontario’s “inspector of the feeble-minded” – precursor for “retarded” • “Degradation of the race” • Genetically inferior babies • Not viewed as racism or hatred, but as a health issue  e.g., obesity in the current context • Emily Murphy – the first woman judge in British Columbia for the women’s suffrage  Hated Asian men and women, but mostly man  Public statements: the problem is that Asians came to Canada and to help build the railroad and we didn’t kick them out, but we should have  With the distribution of drugs, they are getting white women hooked up on them (i.e., opium) and turned them into prostitutes working for these Asian men and then having half-Asian babies  Emily is employing women to be virtuous Arguments About Banning or Allowing Genetic Enhancement & Therapy Research • The nature of labor changed • As more people of colour are coming from other places, you are seeing fertility from white folks dropping • In Vivo Gene Therapy  Systemic Infusion – DNA liposome  Tissue Injection – Recombinant virus  Biolistic Gene Gun – plasmid DNA The Argument from Danger • “Any serious attempt to block such research will simply increase the potential dangers of upcoming technologies by driving the work out of sight, blinding us to early indications of any medical or social problems” • Presupposes the Inevitability Argument • Should we
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