Thank you to my husband, Ben, for writing this post.
EUGENICS: “a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed.” [Merriam-Webster]
(Eugenics) “The study of human improvement by genetic means. The first thorough exposition of eugenics was made by Francis Galton, who in Hereditary Genius (1869) proposed that a system of arranged marriages between men of distinction and women of wealth would eventually produce a gifted race. The American Eugenics Society, founded in 1926, supported Galton’s theories. U.S. eugenicists also supported restriction on immigration from nations with “inferior” stock, such as Italy, Greece, and countries of Eastern Europe, and argued for the sterilization of insane, retarded, and epileptic citizens. Sterilization laws were passed in more than half the states, and isolated instances of involuntary sterilization continued into the 1970s. The assumptions of eugenicists came under sharp criticism beginning in the 1930s and were discredited after the German Nazis used eugenics to support the extermination of Jews, blacks, and homosexuals.” [Concise Encyclopedia]
I’m sad, but mostly angry, to report that the American Eugenics Society may still be alive and well and actively peddling its beliefs to any vulnerable mother who will listen. Today, in a local parenting magazine, I read an “Advertorial” (better known as a paid advertisement masquerading as an editorial) stating that the “American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that all women presenting for prenatal care in the first or second trimester be offered the option of screening for Down Syndrome.” Why? The “advertorial” never addresses this. If it looks like eugenics and walks like eugenics, it’s probably eugenics.
Instead of going into a 50-page diatribe, allow me this: I want to believe that this recommendation from the ACOG is merely a distasteful attempt (we all make mistakes) to help drive revenue in the Maternal-Fetal Clinics of the United States and not a more ominous, poorly cloaked nod to the re-birth of eugenics in America.
Quite plainly, it leaves me wondering why such a revered institution as the ACOG is permitted to mount a “Search and Destroy” campaign on fetuses with Down syndrome and why the citizens of this country sit back and allow it to happen. (Keep in mind, anyone who has celebrated a birthday was at one time a fetus.)
As the father of four children (two with Down syndrome), I shudder to think of the innocent lives that may be lost to this new testing option. Aren’t you glad that your mother didn’t concern herself with your genetic code during the nine months prior to your birthday.