Pop quiz: early eugenics critic

| 35 Comments

Pop quiz, folks. Who wrote the following in 1926? If you know the answer via, say, me, hold off a bit and let people guess. No fair googling, although it looks like a plain google search doesn’t help much. (The internets can thank me for ASCII-ifying this bit of wisdom later.)

If you figure it out, go back to google and have a look at what the IDists/creationists say about this guy and eugenics and post examples. Have they done their research?

The history of the race shows endless examples of the pain and suffering that men have inflicted upon each other by their cocksureness and their meddling.

We know something about biology. We know a little about eugenics. We have no knowledge of what kind of man would be better than the one that Nature is evolving to fit the environment which he cannot escape. We have neither facts nor theories to give us any evidence based on biology or any other branch of science as to how we could breed intelligence, happiness or anything else that would improve the race. We have no idea of the meaning of the world “improvement.” We can imagine no human organization that we could trust with the job, even if eugenicists knew what should be done, and the proper way to do it. Yet in the face of all this we have already started on the course, and the uplifters are urging us to go ahead, with no conception of where we are going, or what route we shall take!

In an age of meddling, presumption, and gross denial of all the individual feelings and emotions, the world is urged, not only to forcibly control all conduct, but to remake man himself! Amongst the schemes for remolding society this is the most senseless and impudent that has ever been put forward by irresponsible fanatics to plague a long-suffering race.

35 Comments

J.B.S. Haldane? Guess based on - 1) geneticist active at that time with 2) good verbal skills.

Good guess! And Haldane was an opponent of eugenics, although not this early I think. But no.

But, speaking of Haldane, this is worth a read:

Haldane, J.B.S. (1938). “The Biology of Inequality.” pp. 113-134 of On Being the Right Size and other Essays, ed. John Maynard Smith, Oxford University Press, 1985. Originally published as chapter 1 of Haldane (1938) Heredity and Politics, Allen & Unwin, London, 1938.

[pp. 115-116]

.

I prefer not to quote the German law on the subject [on sterilization] because it is inevitable that to do so would give rise to a certain amount of prejudice either for or against this law. I will quote the American model Sterilization Law, drafted by H.H. Laughlin…

.

[…he quotes a paragraph from Section 2, subsection (a), then moves to (b), on who ought to be sterilized…]

.

‘(b) The socially inadequate classes, regardless of etiology or prognosis, are the following: (1) Feeble-minded; (2) Insane (including the psychopathic); (3) Criminalistic (including the delinquent and wayward); (4) Epileptic; (5) Inebriate (including drug habitues); (6) Diseased (including the tuberculous, the syphilitic, the leprous, and others with chronic, infectious and legally segregable diseases); (7) Blind2 (including those with seriously impaired vision); (8) Deaf3 (including those with seriously impaired hearing); (9) Deformed (including the crippled); and (10) Dependent (including orphans, ne’er-do-wells, the homeless4, tramps4, and paupers 4).’

.

[…Haldane’s footnotes below…]

.

2 For example Milton.

3 For example Beethoven.

4 For example Jesus.

Wow. The Scope of this statement.

This writes writes like a lawyer…

Am I on the right track?

To doubt you would be sillier than putting a monkey on trial…

I notice that the Eugenics Education Society became the Eugenics Society in 1926 the year you say the quote was made.

The Wikipedia entry has a bunch of important people who were members including several important people in evolutionary thought that the Discovery Institute would love to attack: Julian Huxley and Ronald Fisher among others.

But I notice a name that I recall seeing endless attacks on since way back when it was “scientific creationism” was all the rage before court decision required the repackaging as ID. That name is Margaret Sanger. Other than that she founded Planned Parenthood and is a common scapegoat for the religious far right, I don’t know enough to say if the quote you give is consistent with her views.

I hope that you will forgive googling to get names of 1920 evolutionary biologists mostly to jog my memory in hopes that I would reading attacks on the answer. Sanger was certainly attacked by Henry Morris and later by AiG.

Childermass said:

I hope that you will forgive googling to get names of 1920 evolutionary biologists mostly to jog my memory in hopes that I would recall reading attacks on the answer.

Don’t you hate it when word you meant to be there somehow never got typed?

I, too, thought it might be Haldane so I skipped through my recently-acquired second-hand edition of Possible Worlds (must find the time to read it) but couldn’t indentify the quote.

So:

Give me that Old Time Religion

It’s good enough for me.

Somehow I am reminded of George Bernard Shaw, but I’m not even sure why. He was such a curmudgeon on so many things.

H.L. Mencken? (Commentator at the Scopes trial, hence Nick’s reference above?) Or maybe Clarence Darrow?

Well, I found the author of that quote (thanks to jaymes and nick), but I haven’t found the creo-revisionist twists. Yet. Could you give me a hint?

Geez, Nick …

You’ve got to work on your Googling skills. I found it with one search within 30 seconds.

You should be Expelled from the intertubes!

Creationists have often misquoted a famous person as saying this at about the same time as the eugenics quote: “It is bigotry for public schools to teach only one theory of origins.” This same person wrote an article in 1926 on the “Eugenics Cult.”

Why am I suspicious this might be a quote from Hitler?

Well, it almost COULD have been Mencken.

Mark Twain was dead, but I could imagine him having written this. There are also clergy, of the progressive sort, who could have been the author.

dutchman39 said:

Why am I suspicious this might be a quote from Hitler?

Nonsense. Hitler knew what the perfect man was like; and he knew what the most imperfect man was like. This was at the core of his bizarre racial socialist theory. Blonde-haired blue-eyed Aryan supermen would rule the world and the dirty Jew would be extinguished.

vreejack said:

dutchman39 said:

Why am I suspicious this might be a quote from Hitler?

Nonsense. Hitler knew what the perfect man was like; and he knew what the most imperfect man was like. This was at the core of his bizarre racial socialist theory. Blonde-haired blue-eyed Aryan supermen would rule the world and the dirty Jew would be extinguished.

Slight correction: the dirty non-Aryans would be exterminated, not just Jews. Hitler pretty much hated anyone he did not consider an “Aryan”

Slight correction: the dirty non-Aryans would be exterminated, not just Jews. Hitler pretty much hated anyone he did not consider an “Aryan”

Hitler didn’t hesitate to kill Aryans with disabilities.

Yeah, yeah, OK it wasn’t so hard to find, I had forgotten that NCSE put it up in their Expelled Exposed article. Here’s the reference:

Darrow, Clarence (1926). “The Eugenics Cult.” The American Mercury, 8(30), 129-137.

See also:

Clarence Darrow (1925), “The Edwardses and the Jukeses.” The American Mercury, 6, 147-157.

Right while the Scopes Trial was going on, Darrow was bashing eugenics!

H.L. Mencken was also a good guess. He published/edited the American Mercury throughout the 1920s, and it was a leading venue for progressive thought. He also published one of the first major critiques of eugenics from a biologist:

Raymond Pearl (1927). “The Biology of Superiority.” The American Mercury, XII(47), 157-166.

Mencken himself wrote:

Mencken, H. L. (1927). “On eugenics.” Baltimore Sun, May 15, 1927 (and reprinted).

…or…

http://www.mencken.org/text/txt001/[…]ncken-01.htm

On Eugenics

by H.L. Mencken (from The Chicago Tribune, May 15, 1927.)

THE MORE I plow through the literature confected by the eugenists and their allies, the birth controllers, the more I am convinced that their great cause is mainly blather. Somehow, what they write so indignantly always reminds me of the music of certain of the so-called moderns, who wander around in a maze of tonalities without landing anywhere. In none of their books have I ever found a clear definition of the superiority they talk about so copiously. At one time they seem to identify it with high intelligence. At another time with character, i.e., moral stability, and yet another time with mere fame, i.e., luck. Was Napoleon I a superior man, as I am privately inclined to believe, along with many of the eugenists? Then so was Aaron Burr, if in less measure. Was Paul of Tarsus? Then so was Brigham Young. Were the Gracchi? Then so were Karl Marx and William Jennings Bryan.

This matter of superiority, indeed, presents cruel and ineradicable difficulties. If it is made to run with service to the human race the eugenist is soon mired, for many men held to be highly useful are obviously second rate, and leave third rate progeny behind them; for example, Gen. Grant. And if it is made to run with mere intellectual brilliance and originality the troubles that loom up are just as serious, for men of that rare quality are generally felt to be dangerous, and sometimes they undoubtedly are. The case of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche is in point. I suppose that no rational person today, not even an uncured Liberty Loan orator or dollar a year man, would argue seriously that Nietzsche was inferior. On the contrary, his extraordinary gifts are unanimously admitted. But what of his value to the human race? And what of his eugenic fitness?

It is not easy to answer these questions. Nietzsche, in fact, preached a gospel that, to most human beings, is unbearable, and it will probably remain unbearable for centuries to come. Its adoption by Dr. Coolidge, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, would plunge this republic into dreadful woe. And Nietzshce himself was a chronic invalid who died insane—the sort of wreck who, had he lived into our time, would have been a customer of chiropractors. Worse, he suffered from a malady of a scandalous nature, and of evil effects upon the sufferer’s offspring. Was it good or bad luck for the world, eugenically speaking, that he was a bachelor?

But their vagueness about the exact nature of superiority is not the only thing that corrupts the fine fury of the eugenists. Even more dismaying is their gratuitous assumption that all of the socially useful and laudable qualities (whatever they may be) are the exclusive possession of one class of men, and that the other classes lack them altogether. This is plainly not true. All that may be truthfully said of such qualities is that they appear rather more frequently in one class than in another. But they are rare in all classes, and the difference in the frequency of their occurrence between this class and that one is not very great, and of little genuine importance.

If all the biologists in the United States were hanged tomorrow (as has been proposed by the Mississippi clergy) and their children with them, we’d probably still have a sufficiency of biologists in the next generation. There might not be as many as we have today, but there would be enough. They would come out of the families of bricklayers and politicians, bootleggers and bond salesmen. Some of them, indeed, might even come out of the families of Mississippi ecclesiastics. For the supply of such men, like the supply of synthetic gin, always tends to run with the demand. Whenever the supply is short the demand almost automatically augments it.

Every one knows that this is true on the lower levels. Before baseball was invented there were no Ty Cobbs and Babe Ruths; now they appear in an apparently endless series. Before the Wright brothers made their flight there were no men skilled at aviation; now there are multitudes of highly competent experts. The eugenists forget that the same thing happens on the higher levels. Whenever the world has stood in absolute need of a genius he has appeared. And though it is true that he has usually come out of the better half of humanity, it is also true that he has sometimes come out of the worst half. Beethoven was the grandson of a cook and the son of a drunkard, and Lincoln’s forebears for many generations were nobodies.

The fact is that the difference between the better sort of human beings and the lesser sort, biologically speaking, is very slight. There may be, at the very top, a small class of people whose blood is preponderantly superior and distinguished, and there may be, at the bottom, another class whose blood is almost wholly debased, but both are very small. The folks between are all pretty much alike. The baron has a great deal of peasant blood in him and the peasant has some blood that is blue. The natural sinfulness of man is enough to make sure of that. No man in this world can ever be quite certain that he is the actual great-great-grandson of the great-great-grandfather whose memory he venerates.

Thus when the relatively superior and distinguished class ceases to be fecund (a phenomenon now visible everywhere in the world) natural selection comes to the rescue by selecting out and promoting individuals from the classses below. These individuals are probably just as sound in blood as any one in the class they enter. Their sound blood has been concealed, perhaps for generations, but it has been there all the time. If Abraham Lincoln’s ancestry were known with any certainty it would probably be found to run back to manifestly able and distinguished men. There are many more such hidden family trees in the folk.

The eugenists simply overlook them. They are also singularly blind to many familiar biological phenomena—for example, the appearance of mutations or sports. It is not likely that a commonplace family will produce a genius, but nevertheless it is by no means impossible: the thing has probably happened more than once. They forget, too, the influence of environment in human society. Mere environment, to be sure, cannot produce a genius, but it can certainly help him enormously after he is born. If a potential Wagner were born to a Greek bootblack in Toledo, O., tomorrow, the chances of his coming to fruition and fame would be at least even. But if he were born an Arab in the Libyan desert or to a fundamentalist in Rhea county, Tenn., the chances are that he would be a total loss.

The eugenists constantly make the false assumption that a healthy degree of human progress demands a large supply of first rate men. Here they succumb to the modern craze for mass production. Because a hundred policemen, or garbage men, or bootleggers are manifestly better than one, they conclude absurdly that a hundred Beethovens would be better than one. But this is not true. The actual value of a genius often lies in his singularity. If there had been a hundred Beethovens the music of all of them would be very little known today, and so its civilizing effect would be appreciably less than it is.

The number of first rate men necessary to make a high civilization is really very small. If the United States could produce one Shakespeare or Newton or Bach or Michelangelo of Vesalius a century it would be doing better than any nation has ever done in history. Such culture as we have is due to a group of men so small that all of them alive at one time could be hauled in a single Pullman train. Once I went through Who’s Who in America, hunting for the really first rate men among its 27,000 names—that is, for the men who had really done something unique and difficult, and of value to the human race. I found 200. The rest of the 27,000 were simply respectable blanks.

An overproduction of geniuses, indeed, would be very dangerous, for though they make for progress they also tend to disturb the peace. Imagine a country housing 100 head of Aristotles! It would be as unhappy as a city housing 100 head of Jesse Jameses. Even quasi-geniuses are a great burden upon society. There are in the United States today 1,500 professional philosophers—that is, men who make their living at the trade. The country would be far better off if all save two or three of them were driving taxicabs or serving with the Rum Fleet.

(On the other hand, a 1937 pro-sterilization piece…although I thinking Mencken has his tongue firmly in cheek here:

http://mencken.info/2010/08/utopia-[…]erilization/ )

So, Darrow led the pack.

You will never hear any of this from the creationists. To them, these guys were all pro-eugenics.

PS – These articles are now public domain I think, if anyone is bored and wants to OCR my PDFs and convert them to text for the GoogleSphere, email me at matzkeATberkeley.edu.

The example that got me going on this lately was Cornelius Hunter’s post:

He originally wrote this (close to this, I didn’t have the original):

From scientists such as Charles Davenport (Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) to elites such as Theodore Roosevelt, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Clarence Darrow, eugenics was well accepted, and all with the best of intentions no doubt.

After I called BS on this, he changed it to:

From scientists such as Charles Davenport (Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) to elites such as Theodore Roosevelt and Oliver Wendell Holmes, eugenics was well accepted, and all with the best of intentions no doubt. Even Clarence Darrow at one point urged that we “chloroform unfit children.”

That latter refers to a quote in the newspapers in 1915 where prominent people were asked to comment on a situation where a Chicago doctor was publicizing the fact that he was letting a baby with horrendous birth defects die. The original article is not online, so whether this represents Darrow’s considered view, an offhand remark after a surprise telephone call, or a misinterpretation of what he meant is hard to tell. Apparently Helen Keller also supported the doctor’s decision. In any case, the 1915 controversy was about euthanasia for babies with horrendous birth defects, which is much different than eugenics.

Ah, Mencken, never one to pass up the sledgehammer when a less drastic tool might do the job better. But not without his insights.

This is the 1915 Bollinger baby case, in which surgeon Harry Haiselden, a proponent of eugenics, allowed a baby with horrendous birth defects to die. Darrow was indeed quoted as agreeing with the situation, but as Nick points out, the context is unclear. Darrow was known to offer snap opinions, and to change his mind (this was ten years before the Scopes Trial). Also, the issue of “mercy killing” is not identical to that of eugenics.

I’ve been keeping up with creationism for years, but only today did I learn that they don’t like Theodore Roosevelt.

I had cheated and found out it was Darrow, but I did try a guess first.

John Pieret said:

Geez, Nick …

You’ve got to work on your Googling skills. I found it with one search within 30 seconds.

You should be Expelled from the intertubes!

Note to self: Don’t ever again accept anyone saying a text is not googlable without checking first.

Nick, I see you are imitating UD’s very own VJ Torley.

UD, ID (and I’m sure Torley) thank you for the compliment!

Oh, and as to your OP, is it splitting hairs we are up to? Darrow, not quite the rabid prop of eugenics? But conceivably sympathetic no doubt.

In PT parlance (so as to avoid any misunderstandings), STFW?

Is ‘tit for tat’ the preferred strategy here?

Karen S. said:

Slight correction: the dirty non-Aryans would be exterminated, not just Jews. Hitler pretty much hated anyone he did not consider an “Aryan”

Hitler didn’t hesitate to kill Aryans with disabilities.

Among the earliest to be gassed (via methods cruder and less “sanitary” than Zyklon B) were mentally disabled. Hitler only wanted those Germans who were physically and mentally perfect - as well as those without any Jewish origins - to be considered true Aryans.

Eugenics from 380 BC. I confronted David Klinghoffer with this once; he conceded that Plato advocated eugenics, but maintained that it was nonetheless appropriate to consider eugenics to be “Darwinism”, because “Darwinism” is a worldview and eugenics is part of that view even though it predates Darwin by thousands of years.

…The principle has been already laid down that the best of either sex should be united with the best as often, and the inferior with the inferior, as seldom as possible; and that they should rear the offspring of the one sort of union, but not of the other, if the flock is to be maintained in first-rate condition. Now these goings on must be a secret which the rulers only know, or there will be a further danger of our herd, as the guardians may be termed, breaking out into rebellion.

Had we not better appoint certain festivals at which we will bring together the brides and bridegrooms, and sacrifices will be offered and suitable hymeneal songs composed by our poets: the number of weddings is a matter which must be left to the discretion of the rulers, whose aim will be to preserve the average of population? There are many other things which they will have to consider, such as the effects of wars and diseases and any similar agencies, in order as far as this is possible to prevent the State from becoming either too large or too small.

We shall have to invent some ingenious kind of lots which the less worthy may draw on each occasion of our bringing them together, and then they will accuse their own ill-luck and not the rulers. And I think that our braver and better youth, besides their other honours and rewards, might have greater facilities of intercourse with women given them; their bravery will be a reason, and such fathers ought to have as many sons as possible.

The proper officers will take the offspring of the good parents to the pen or fold, and there they will deposit them with certain nurses who dwell in a separate quarter; but the offspring of the inferior, or of the better when they chance to be deformed, will be put away in some mysterious, unknown place, as they should be.

That must be done if the breed of the guardians is to be kept pure.

They will provide for their nurture, and will bring the mothers to the fold when they are full of milk, taking the greatest possible care that no mother recognizes her own child; and other wet-nurses may be engaged if more are required. Care will also be taken that the process of suckling shall not be protracted too long; and the mothers will have no getting up at night or other trouble, but will hand over all this sort of thing to the nurses and attendants. And what is the prime of life? May it not be defined as a period of about twenty years in a woman’s life, and thirty in a man’s?

A woman, I said, at twenty years of age may begin to bear children to the State, and continue to bear them until forty; a man may begin at five-and-twenty, when he has passed the point at which the pulse of life beats quickest, and continue to beget children until he be fifty-five. Any one above or below the prescribed ages who takes part in the public hymeneals shall be said to have done an unholy and unrighteous thing; the child of which he is the father, if it steals into life, will have been conceived under auspices very unlike the sacrifices and prayers, which at each hymeneal priestesses and priest and the whole city will offer, that the new generation may be better and more useful than their good and useful parents, whereas his child will be the offspring of darkness and strange lust. And the same law will apply to any one of those within the prescribed age who forms a connection with any woman in the prime of life without the sanction of the rulers; for we shall say that he is raising up a bastard to the State, uncertified and unconsecrated.

Klinghoffer’s response has to be read to be believed:

http://blog.beliefnet.com/kingdomof[…]nk.html#post

jingjingandgabriel said:

Eugenics from 380 BC. I confronted David Klinghoffer with this once; he conceded that Plato advocated eugenics, but maintained that it was nonetheless appropriate to consider eugenics to be “Darwinism”, because “Darwinism” is a worldview and eugenics is part of that view even though it predates Darwin by thousands of years.

…The principle has been already laid down that the best of either sex should be united with the best as often, and the inferior with the inferior, as seldom as possible; and that they should rear the offspring of the one sort of union, but not of the other, if the flock is to be maintained in first-rate condition. Now these goings on must be a secret which the rulers only know, or there will be a further danger of our herd, as the guardians may be termed, breaking out into rebellion.

Had we not better appoint certain festivals at which we will bring together the brides and bridegrooms, and sacrifices will be offered and suitable hymeneal songs composed by our poets: the number of weddings is a matter which must be left to the discretion of the rulers, whose aim will be to preserve the average of population? There are many other things which they will have to consider, such as the effects of wars and diseases and any similar agencies, in order as far as this is possible to prevent the State from becoming either too large or too small.

We shall have to invent some ingenious kind of lots which the less worthy may draw on each occasion of our bringing them together, and then they will accuse their own ill-luck and not the rulers. And I think that our braver and better youth, besides their other honours and rewards, might have greater facilities of intercourse with women given them; their bravery will be a reason, and such fathers ought to have as many sons as possible.

The proper officers will take the offspring of the good parents to the pen or fold, and there they will deposit them with certain nurses who dwell in a separate quarter; but the offspring of the inferior, or of the better when they chance to be deformed, will be put away in some mysterious, unknown place, as they should be.

That must be done if the breed of the guardians is to be kept pure.

They will provide for their nurture, and will bring the mothers to the fold when they are full of milk, taking the greatest possible care that no mother recognizes her own child; and other wet-nurses may be engaged if more are required. Care will also be taken that the process of suckling shall not be protracted too long; and the mothers will have no getting up at night or other trouble, but will hand over all this sort of thing to the nurses and attendants. And what is the prime of life? May it not be defined as a period of about twenty years in a woman’s life, and thirty in a man’s?

A woman, I said, at twenty years of age may begin to bear children to the State, and continue to bear them until forty; a man may begin at five-and-twenty, when he has passed the point at which the pulse of life beats quickest, and continue to beget children until he be fifty-five. Any one above or below the prescribed ages who takes part in the public hymeneals shall be said to have done an unholy and unrighteous thing; the child of which he is the father, if it steals into life, will have been conceived under auspices very unlike the sacrifices and prayers, which at each hymeneal priestesses and priest and the whole city will offer, that the new generation may be better and more useful than their good and useful parents, whereas his child will be the offspring of darkness and strange lust. And the same law will apply to any one of those within the prescribed age who forms a connection with any woman in the prime of life without the sanction of the rulers; for we shall say that he is raising up a bastard to the State, uncertified and unconsecrated.

Klinghoffer’s response has to be read to be believed:

http://blog.beliefnet.com/kingdomof[…]nk.html#post

How pathetic. It’s quite obvious that Klinghoffer’s critical reasoning skills have declined substantially since his Brown University graduation.

For anyone interested, I’ve OCRed Nick’s copy of “The Eugenics Cult” and posted it here:

http://dododreams.blogspot.com/2011[…]reprint.html

If you spot any errors, please leave a comment over there.

While googling for the answer I found this among the enteries on the subject for around 1926, you might have come across it. It is by the Bishop of Birmingham The Right Rev. E. W. Barnes called The Galton Lecture given at the Eugenics Education Society Meeting at London Tuesday February 16th, 1926. I’ve learnt that it seems the subject was been discussed a lot around that time of war years.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/art[…]322-0020.pdf

I guessed George Orwell, god knows why. One question, don’t we already perform eugenics, in an extremely limited way? That is, if a sonogram detects severe fetal abnormalities is not an abortion recommended. Don’t jump on me, I;m just asking. I personally see this as entirely right BTW. Who should decide? The parents and their doctor, in complete, and protected privacy. These decisions have absolutely nothing to do with the state, still less, a group of ‘holier than thou’ god botherers.

robert van bakel said:

I guessed George Orwell, god knows why. One question, don’t we already perform eugenics, in an extremely limited way? That is, if a sonogram detects severe fetal abnormalities is not an abortion recommended. Don’t jump on me, I;m just asking. I personally see this as entirely right BTW. Who should decide? The parents and their doctor, in complete, and protected privacy. These decisions have absolutely nothing to do with the state, still less, a group of ‘holier than thou’ god botherers.

As far as I know, sometimes an abortion is recommended in such situations. However, it is up to the parents to follow through or reject such a suggestion. Thus, because the doctors or any other “authority figure” do not intend to enforce their suggestions, people don’t think of this as “eugenics.”

Some ethnic groups, though, do practice some degree of “eugenics” in order to minimize the appearance of certain genetic disorders, like how some Ashkenazi Jews refrain from conceiving due to a greater risk of having children with cystic fibrosis.

robert van bakel said:

I guessed George Orwell, god knows why. One question, don’t we already perform eugenics, in an extremely limited way? That is, if a sonogram detects severe fetal abnormalities is not an abortion recommended. Don’t jump on me, I;m just asking. I personally see this as entirely right BTW. Who should decide? The parents and their doctor, in complete, and protected privacy. These decisions have absolutely nothing to do with the state, still less, a group of ‘holier than thou’ god botherers.

The kinds of abnormalities that you describe are not compatible with life for any significant period of time.

They are typically due to chromosomal number abnormalities (trisomy 21 and some sex chromosome number abnormalities are the only such that are compatible with life much beyond the neonatal stage), or to a severe environmental disruption of the pregnancy.

In these cases, there is no possible therapy, giving birth could be quite dangerous to the mother, and the infant would not be viable even with maximal medical care.

The parents sometimes have cryptic genetic problems but usually are completely normal genetically. Except in unusual cases where some kind of cryptic genetic abnormality rules out a healthy pregnancy, they may well try again.

These kinds of births are very hard on everyone involved. There is no rational reason to force these pregnancies to birth.

I happened to do some post-mortem examinations on infants delivered with this class of problems as a pathology resident; I won’t describe the situations as there is a tiny but finite chance that someone’s privacy could be compromised.

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