At the start of the 20th century, it was the general consensus that eugenics would surely be the logical step forward, enabling man to command his own evolution in a way that was efficient and progressive. Several American states introduced sterilisation laws to allow the compulsory sterilisation of certain individuals regarded as feebleminded or morons. European countries soon followed suit including not only Nazi Germany, but Switzerland and a number of Scandinavian countries.
In the 1900s, the United States had a vision that with the huge number of immigrants entering their country every day, their fine American stock was in danger of being contaminated by “inferior” genes. Anti-miscegenation laws were soon introduced and many interracial marriages were declared invalid.
Eugenics is a system by which an individual’s human rights are disregarded and a person in high authority effectively chooses whether a certain person is allowed to reproduce. In severe cases, people would sometimes be killed just because of an illness or disorder which eugenicists did not want to see replicated in future generations. In 1939, in Nazi Germany, sterilisation of the mentally retarded was replaced by a euthanasia law. This meant that patients in mental hospitals could simply be killed on eugenics ground, either by lethal injection or by being gassed.
So eugenics has been widely used already, but it was exactly this “playing God” act that gave it its bad publicity. Some of the world’s most prominent scientists declared opposition for such radical actions and history eventually began to reverse itself. The laws against miscegenation were finally overturned, but it wasn’t until 1976 that Sweden brought an end to its eugenic sterilisations.
Although the discovery has been made that much of a person’s ability and character is pre-determined by genes, eugenicists still have a limited idea of what is actually inherited and what is conditioned by the surrounding environment. To “play” with a person’s genetic makeup could therefore be disastrous and actually end up proving disastrous unless something has been explicitly proven.
Many human conditions are not due to inheritance and are down to mutation or by damage during the birth process. This means that even if eugenicists were to create a human “super-race”, such defects would still occur and would be unavoidable, even if the baby is born to super intelligent or good-looking parents.
Some people even considered ways of changing the number of children that certain people are allowed to have. There was concern amongst certain scientists that the upper and middle classes – who were known to be more intelligent and hard working – were reproducing less than those from the lower classes who weren’t as clever and were more prone to committing crimes. It was suggested that a law should be enforced worldwide to stop such “an awful atrocity” and that by creating a human super race, everyone would be better off in the long run.
Eugenics is taking place at this very moment with couples everywhere playing God. It is now commonplace for every expectant mother to have several tests and scans to see whether their baby will be born healthy and, in some scenarios, the parents may choose to abort the baby if it is to be born with an illness. This, in itself, brings up a whole new argument on abortion, but it is in theory also eugenics because people are deciding to be selective over how fit a baby is at birth.
For eugenics to work effectively, it would be necessary to survey each and every member of the population. A test would be designed which tested every notable human characteristic from intelligence through to physical fitness and ability. Each person could then be scored and if they scored above a certain amount then they would be told how many children they were permitted to have. Those that fell below the score would be banned from reproducing. Another way would be to keep the world population stable, so that for every 100 million children born, 100 million of the worst scoring people would be killed off.
However, in my opinion, killing is never justified and so to propose a rapid culling of those who did not meet rigorous standards would be unfair and inhumane. Creating a super race would be advantageous to the future of mankind, but it has the potential to do more harm than good if the selection process falls into the wrong hands.
Additionally, for a scientist to “play God” would be ethically and morally wrong and would pose problems for religions doctrines. It would also be denying those who wanted to reproduce the human rights that they deserve if they are told that they cannot.
No government would be able to impose such a law or proposition without extreme protest from human rights groups and rightly so. It is best for nature to take its own course and so for a human to put such a plan into action would be defying morals and would be unjust for humanity as a whole.