(HS Insider)


Opinion: Eugenics past and present — How prejudice evolves with science

Eugenics is a prejudiced, inaccurate scientific practice that has a possibility of remerging into society through the development of CRISPR.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/henryliu114/" target="_self">Henry Liu</a>

Henry Liu

November 10, 2022
Science is one of the biggest reasons why humans have progressed over the years, from the discovery of fire to the creation of the internet. Science is a truly fascinating subject; however, there are times when science can go too far. Even science, despite all of its benefits, can be utilized maliciously. One of those malicious uses of science was the study of eugenics, or what a lot of people like to call scientific racism.

What is Eugenics?

According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, the prejudiced and scientifically inaccurate theory of eugenics states that perfect humans can be achieved by eliminating all other undesirable genetics that people are born with such as genetic diseases. To achieve this “goal,” eugenicists believed a mother and father with favorable genetics will breed and create a child, and in theory, that child will continue on with other people with favorable genetics until we achieve the perfect person. Segregation and persecution were used on those who were considered ill-bred.

The American Psychological Association’s definition of eugenics states the eugenic position is “groundless and scientifically naive” since many disabilities or disorders occur unpredictably, as they are inherited recessively.

Modern Eugenics

According to Alpha History, the Nazi party was heavily influenced by eugenics. From 1933-1945, the Germans carried a plan that would “cleanse” society, a plan that would rid the negative genetic qualities of the German people, called the German Euthanasia program. The Nazis believed that those who were genetically diseased should be sterilized and killed.

They believed in the superiority of races: the German race was the perfect race, while at the bottom, the Jews were considered by anti-Semitics to be the worst race. The “hereditary health” law was passed by Hitler that made doctors register all health defects of a German civilian except for women aged 45 and up. Courts took on these cases one by one to determine whether or not the person registered should be killed or not. There was also a prohibition of mixed-race marriages. The Law for the Protection of the Genetic Health of the German People was a law where couples wishing to marry, must first obtain a certificate from the public health office. The couple would declare that the proposed marriage would not produce an ill-bred child.

What’s next?

According to the Disability and Philapathy Forum, technology known as CRISPR, allows parents to edit their children’s traits and DNA. It is used to treat many diseases such as hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, and even cancer. All of this may sound nice at first, but because of this new type of technology, the human expectation and eugenic attitudes would change society. People may frown on existing disabled people more and more. It could be possible that the government of a country may force pregnant mothers to use CRISPR. 

As technology advances, so does the threat of eugenics and other forms of scientific racism.