Source Based Essay- Eugenics

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Therese Rubi
English Composition
Professor Falk-Gee

Eugenics Research Paper

Everyone goes to the doctor. We all get cuts, bruises and the occasional cold, and there’s a whole system in place to keep us healthy. However, how much do we know about this system? Although we complain about our healthcare system, the origins of how it came to be are more shocking than you may think. Since before the Civil War, the American healthcare system has perpetuated the same racist, sexism and bigoted notions as our fore fathers. Not only are these notions wrong, they are dangerous. These falsehoods are rooted in Eugenics. This toxic ideology has not only a stain on our history but presents us with a modern dilemma as well. From philosophers and surgeons of old to your local pediatrician, we should understand the dark underbelly of how health works in America.


Before we can understand the impact Eugenics has had, we must first understand what it means. Put simply, Eugenics, directly translated as “well-born”, is the practice of manipulating the human genome to rid of defects and undesired traits in order to create a more perfect human race. This practice has existed since the dawn of civilization, being traced back to Ancient Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle (Galton, 1) who advocated for social purification. However, the term was coined in the late nineteenth century by Sir Francis Galton. Galton, known by many as the Father of Eugenics, was a cousin of Charles Darwin, and applied Darwin’s theory of evolution to modern society. The ideology of Social Darwinism was popular during the Gilded Age and was reflected in Western legislation and politics (Bynum, The childless father of Eugenics). Many notable historical figures advocated for the ideology, including Marie Stopes, Theordore Roosevelt, Hellen Keller and H.G. Wells. The rising popularity of this “progressive movement” gave an excuse for the elite and wealthy to maintain a toxic hierarchy, furthering the “ survival of the fittest” mentality. The first Eugenics Records Office was established in 1911 under the Carnegie Institution, its purpose being to track “familial pedigree, case studies and indexed records”( Ummel, Dream or nightmare?…). The ERO, led by biologist Charles Davenport, took particular interest in families from minority, immigrant or impoverished demographics, deeming all unacceptable and deprived behavior such as alcoholism, criminality, promiscuity, insanity etc. to be a factor of their genes. 


In order to combat this perceived threat and uphold the Anglo upper class, Eugenic Congresses would convene, discussing possible ‘solutions’. These solutions often took the form of horrid immigration laws, marital legistaltion, sterilization and abortion targeted towards the ‘feeble minded’ and ‘undesired’ populations. In 1922, ERO Director Harry H. Laughlin assisted Congress in passing sterilization laws, which forced sterilization of specifics individuals identified by the government as “insane, criminals, epileptics, alcoholics, blind persons, deaf persons, deformed persons, and the dependent, including orphans, tramps, paupers and the homeless” (Ummel, Dream or nightmare?). To test the constitutionality of the state-funded castrations, in 1927 the Supreme Court took on the case of Buck v. Bell. Carrie Buck, a 17 year old girl was diagnosed as “mentally infirm” and was sterilized ,without her nor her mothers consent, after giving birth to her infant daughter. Despite the evident injustice, it was decided that compulsory sterilization was constitutionally justified  under the proceedings of the case (Day, How the Supreme Court…)  In a statement written by Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes, who was one of the Supreme Court Judges present for the hearings he wrote “Three generations of imbeciles are enough”. These proceedings would later be used by Nazi lawyers to defend gruesome experimentation programs in Nuremburg. 


As a direct result of this Supreme Court case, eighteen states passed laws leading to the forced sterilization of at least 64,000 Americans. Many may claim “if only reproductive rights had been stronger, these travesties could’ve been avoided!”. On the contrary, pioneers of the sexual revolution also advocated for the sterilization and abortion of minority, immigrant and impoverished communities. Pioneers such as Margret Sanger, whom founded the Birth Control review, and later, Planned Parenthood, was especially spiteful against black and Catholic communities. In 1920, it was recorded that she wrote “We don’t want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro Population” (Conley, Margret Sanger) in a letter to Dr. Clarence J. Gamble whom was a reputable doctor and fellow eugenist. Contraception and abortion was marketed towards ‘overpopulated’ communities because the birth rates of the white upper class were declining (Messinger, birth control). Women’s Rights activists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin claimed that the normalization of abortion and contraception was to assist women, while is was in fact controlling them, controlling whom was allowed to have children, damning women to a new slavery. 


To further the crimes committed in the name of Eugenics, the same methods that were championed by people like Sanger and Laughlin were utilized by monsters like Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler and Josef Mengale. In Hitler’s writings, he praised America’s racist immigration, sterilization and marital legislation, going so far as to mention the strong anti-miscegenation laws found in the South. The work done in Nazi camps and laboratories even seemed to remotely mimick the experiments done by J. Marion Sims on slave women in Pre-Civil America. Known as the Father of Gynecology, Marion’s grotesque and dehumanizing surgical practices may seem moderate in comparison to the horrors committed in camps like Burgen Belson and Auschwitz (Lombardo, The American Breed). In the camp Ravensbruck, which was populated only by women, experimentation was rampant, and some procedures were so gruesome that select files are not available for public consumption. One experiment that was common was like so:a wound was deliberately sliced into a subjects calf, then injected with multiple virulent bacterial infections, then tested with drugs. “The operations consisted of breaking up, dissecting and grafting bones, muscles and nerves.” (Leszczynski, Experimental Operations…)Those who didn’t die of infection or unbearable pain were left permanently deformed. Not to mention the experiments done on twins, infants and the handicapped. The war crimes are innumerable. 


Thankfully after the 1950s, the term Eugenics became a dirty word due to its associated with the Nazis, but it is still practiced today. Even under a different name, the weak and undesired are still being targeted by the government and the elite. Forced sterilization of American Indian, Latina and Black women continued to occur in as late as the 1980s. In 1970, ten Mexican women sued the Los Angeles County for coercing them into sterilization, in the case of Madrigal v. Quilligan (Manian, 1) however, this is just one case. In addition, the statistics are astronomical; for example, from 1929 to 1974, 7600 girls were sterilized in North Carolina, 40% being Black (Nittle, The U.S. Government’s Role…). Not to mention Native women, including one young native girl for whom a routine vaccination turned into a nightmare.


I had been sterilized at the age of eleven, at the IHS [Indian Health Service I hospital here in the early 1950s. I got married in the 1960s and I went to the doctor and he told me that I had a partial hysterectomy. [When I was a child] they were giving us vaccinations and mine got infected and a nurse came and gave me some kind of shot so I wouldn’t hurt. When I woke up my stomach was hurting and I was bleeding (Woman speaking on radio show, “Native America Calling,” 2002) (Carpio, The Lost Generation). 


Such inhumane treatment of women has only one explanation: the government has tried repeatedly to commit genocide against its own people. If we kill and harm the innocent, we have no hope as a nation. 


We are still in danger of similar victimization despite the fact that we live in a technological advanced first world country. In our hospitals, young black mothers are being under treated, old people are being euthanized, babies are made in test tubes while other babies are murdered and thrown in a trash bin. Who decides the value of an individual? Are rich families more valuable than poor families? Are white babies more valuable than Mexican babies? You may be saying “of course not!” but your tax dollars say otherwise. In 2018, the US Government gave Planned Parenthood 563.8 million dollars in reimbursement and grants (Planned This is the same organization that proactively supported Eugenics in the past and continues to do so today. According to the 2010 Census, 79% of surgical abortion clinics were within walking distance of Black and Hispanic neighborhoods and 54% of medically under served areas ( Waychoff, NY Rep. Maloney…).This means that rather than providing minority communities a proper hospital and resources, the government allows the vacancy to be compensated by a third party that seeks to limit their population. Those millions of reimbursement dollars should go to facilities that provide prenatal care, postpartum care, ultrasounds, and pediatric care, just to name a few. The abortion rate is almost 3 times higher among black women and the black infant mortality rate is 10.97% because they are not supported by our government (Eligon, When’Black Lives Matter’...). These statistics are a disgusting miscarriage of justice on our own people. The mentality that poor women and minority women are ‘unfit’ to procreate is evident in the data. Yet other women are so privileged that they can pick build their dream baby.


Although many women are dissuaded and manipulated into having less children, other women will go to tremendous, even immoral lengths to conceive. While a plethora of infertility treatments are available for men and women, the most controversial method is in vitro fertilization. In vitro fertilization, also known as IVF, is when an egg and a sperm are combined in a petri dish rather than through intercourse or artificial insemination. Each round of IVF can be as expensive at $15,000, with a success rate of only 4% for women over forty. Before we can dissect the ethics of IVF, we must first understand the process: there are 5 main steps.


1). Drugs and tests are given to stimulate the woman’s body into producing more than one egg (superovulation) 

2).  Follicular aspiration is performed, which is a surgery to remove the eggs from the woman’s ovaries

3).  Multiple healthy eggs are then inseminated and stored in a controlled chamber

4). The fertilized should begin to grow, and will be monitored by clinic staff. Often each frozen embryo will be screened for disorders or diseases to select which will be ideal for implantation.

5). Embryos are then inserted into the woman’s womb, often multiple at a time. This can possibly result in twins, triplets, etc. If the embryo becomes embedded into the lining of the uterus, pregnancy results. Unused embryos can be disposed, donated, or refrozen. (Medline Plus)

This technology is unmistakable eugenic. Wealthy couples who are naturally unable to conceive force nature to heed to the will of science. These test-tube babies are often hand-picked by parents. The sex, hair color, eye color and other characteristics can be chosen through modifying DNA fragments. The purpose of ‘designer babies’ is to create a child with specific, superior traits, leaving babies considered ‘unfit’ are thrown into the trash once again. Researchers have a different perspective, Dr John Zhang, CEO of New Hope Fertility Center states ““Gene editing currently exists in nature. Evolution is constantly editing our genes, but very slowly” (NHFC). Humans change over time, but a select very flawed scientists shouldn’t feel compelled to accelerate this change. Galton, Himmler and countless others have attempted this method, ‘to better humanity’, but all it does is kill the innocent. The same ideology used by the Nazis to create the ‘Ubermensch’ is being used to create ‘designer babies’. An ideology that veils truth with scientific jargon and self-righteous justification. Those frozen embryos are not static objects, those frozen embryos are people, they are babies imprisoned and awaiting their fate. Like the unborn infants of poor and minority women, what force determines who is good enough to live? What deems a child ‘unfit’? For example, in Iceland and Denmark , 100% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero are aborted (Quinones, Lajka, ‘What kind of society…’). 

The government is permitting the systematic annihilation of innocents. Scientists and politicians have a twisted idea of perfection, of utopia, and we are allowing them to change our society to fit a cruel image. 


And on top of all the travesties that have occurred in our past, present, and into the foreseeable future, there are millions of beautifully imperfect children waiting to be adopted. The fortunate survivors of abortion, why aren’t the hundreds of thousands of dollars sunk into IVF dedicated to the children that are already here? Once again we see the symptoms of racial purification in our midst. According to USC Fertility, 91% of IVF participants were Caucasion (USC Fertility), while American whites only consist of 62% of our entire population (Census Bureau). As of 2017 213,000 rounds of IVF treatment were conducted (Fox, A Million Babies) while 442, 995 children sat in foster care, 100,607 of those children being black (AFCARS Foster Care Data Release). The disparity is clear in the statistics. Our government and our institutions don’t care about blacks, especially not their children. Wealthy individuals perpetuate the notion that minorities are inferior than their clean, well kept children. Adoption may not be as glamorous as having your own baby, but its a beautiful donation of oneself. However, its better to be an orphan than never to have existed at all, like all the unborn babies aborted or left in a freezer. Adoption gives a child a chance, an opportunity, it puts money into the true donation of another. Investing in the well being of a child that not your own. Protecting them, loving them, choosing them is just as rewarding and noble as biological parenthood, if not more. Women carry within them miracle of life not only bodies but in their hearts, so why squander priceless time to indulge in something that will likely be unsuccessful and damaging?  Parenthood is a costly endeavor, but we shouldn’t think that killing and manipulating children will make it easier. 


Despite the harshness of the subject matter, it is fundamental to be compassionate dissenting opinion of my opposition. When addressing sterilization, abortion, IVF and Nazis, people tend to react strongly. I understand the immense struggle that women face when addressing their motherhood. And with this struggle comes with the truth that society has failed us. Women should never feel pressured or victimized, they should feel safe to prosper, no matter the context of one’s situation. But we should also be truthfully aware of our tendency to be selfish. It is easier to say ‘no’ to a challenge than adapt to it, its easier to tolerate a problem than fix it, but we live in a time that vehemently hates women, children and minorities. People bellow racism and sexism, in the media, but this is a distraction from the true crime. This hatred lies in silence. The silence found in doctors offices, in abortion clinics, in laboratories, in city hall. It also lies in the silent screams of aborted babies, frozen embryos, and twiddling mental health of young mothers. The secrets and cowardice that organizations like Planned Parenthood possess to oppress us. No one mentions all the people whom were meant to be, the people whom we will never meet because they were stripped of the most fundamental human right: Life. 


Many would see contradictions in my position, that I am proactively demolishing the values I claim to uphold, but I digress. I do not believe access to abortion, contraceptives and IVF bring women new freedom, I believe it makes a modern slavery. A slavery to men that wish to sexually deprive women while bearing none of the consequences. A slavery to men who wish to control the population through the facade of freedom. Historically, these reproductive revelations were always utilized to victim women in the most degenerate fashion, and I sternly believe that has not changed. I support that fact that every human, no matter how deformed, defective and diseased, is entitled to dignity from conception to natural death.


As a populous, the term Eugenics has been obliterated. It sought to destroy the messy beauty of diversity and destroy the value of the individual. Although the villains of the past have been defeated, it is our turn to fight against the silent genocide. Fight against the government’s notions of normalcy and person hood. The same people who claim to champion our rights are the first to take them away. It doesn’t matter if you are Black, white, or a purple Asian, we are fighting the same evil. Humans have and always will be flawed, racist, bigoted creatures, however, we must persist. You may despise my position, but I you are able to ponder on reproductive technology and see a different perspective. Get a glimpse of the ruse, because it is our turn to draw our swords and defend the blood of the innocent. 




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