Eugenics: Not Just for Nazis Anymore

Is evolution true? Was Margaret Sanger a racist? Is Planned Parenthood bad? Should I get an abortion?

Much is being made of the fact that Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin has a son with Down’s Syndrome. Why is it a big deal? Simple: most women in the developed world undergo testing to see if their baby will have Down’s Syndrome, and an estimated 90% of all babies so diagnosed are aborted. Sarah Palin and her husband Todd – despite knowing that their son would be born with Down’s – decided to raise their child instead of killing it.

I’m pleased to see a politician who shares my distaste for abortion. According to Wikipedia, the approximate number of induced abortions performed annually is a mind-numbing 46 million. According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute – part of Planned Parenthood – 26% of all pregnancies worldwide end in abortion. That’s more than 1 of every 4 babies waiting to be born.

Abortion is obviously far too common. Most abortions are considered birth control, which says a lot about human nature. In 2000, over 90% of US abortions were elective, and according to information given by the mothers, were done specifically for convenience. Yes, I applaud Governor and Todd Palin…but there’s more to learn from this situation than that someone made a difficult and unpopular decision.

I’m talking about Eugenics. The word Eugenics means “well born”. Simply put, Eugenics is man’s attempt at helping evolution along. The idea is that we can improve the gene pool by keeping undesirable traits from being passed to our children. Traits like illnesses, birth defects, lower intelligence, and even simple things like hair and skin color. Eugenics efforts have included selective breeding, sterilization and euthanasia. Adolf Hitler was a proponent of Eugenics, and believed that removing the unfit (blacks, Jews, etc) from the gene pool by killing them was a benefit to mankind.

Margaret Sanger, founder of the American Birth Control League (which later became Planned Parenthood) was a proponent of negative Eugenics…which brings us back to the Palin family. Like many others, they believe that their son’s life is valuable regardless of his Down’s Syndrome. Planned Parenthood is partially responsible for around 48 million abortions in the US since the passage of Roe v Wade. While there’s no question that Planned Parenthood has done a lot of good over the years, there’s also no question that their support of abortion stems as much from Eugenics as from women’s rights.

Hitler’s and Sanger’s brand of Eugenics was responsible for compulsary sterilization in the United States, in which 65,000 individual people in 33 states were sterilized against their will between 1907 and 1981. Among the traits to be removed from our gene pool:

  • Mental retardation
  • Mental illness
  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Epilepsy
  • Physical deformations

Native American and African-American women were sometimes sterilized against their will – often without their knowledge – while hospitalized for other reasons (like childbirth).

Eugenics is alive and well in the 21st century…we just don’t call it Eugenics anymore. We call it “a mother’s right to choose”. I hope that Sarah Palin’s choice will be echoed by women everywhere.