February 7 - Dr. Karl Brandt: Eugenics

Announcements

Outreach- We will be having Outreach on February 22.  We will be meeting at the Biochemistry Lounge at 1:20pm.  Please do not be late.  If you are interested, please let William know (wbeyer@purdue.edu).

 

Speaker- Dr. Karl Brandt

“Eugenics- Past, Future, and a Question: is Eugenics ever ethically acceptable?”

What is Eugenics?  Eugenics is thought of as good health, and noble in heredity.  It is the study of agencies under social control that may improve or hinder social future, either physically or mentally.  At the beginning of eugenics, people had a fear of being dragged down by an “underclass”.  They thought there was an inherited tendency toward degeneracy and crimes. 

There are really two types of eugenics: positive and negative eugenics.  Positive eugenics is where people wanted to maximize the “better classes”, by exhorting them to choose their mates wisely and have children liberally.  State Fairs would hold contests to see which family was the “fitter family” based on positive eugenics.  Negative eugenics is where people wanted to minimize the “lower class” by preventing them from having children.  This was done by incarnation or involuntary sterilization (castration, vasectomy). 

Some states mandated involuntary sterilization.  Indiana led the way in 1899.  In 1907 Indiana passed the Eugenics Sterilization Law, which as the first state sterilization law.  This law was finally repelled in 1974.  During 1909 to 1923, 19 US states passed sterilization laws.  North Carolina was the last state to have their sterilization law repelled, which was in 2003.  North Carolina was the only state that sought to provide compensation to those who were sterilized and still alive.  This compensation was not within the state’s budget, so it did not pass. 

Louise Brown was the first human conceived by in vitro fertilization in 1978.  This was a triumph of science and medicine.  But it brought up the question of whether we humans had the right to play God.  Today, 5 million children are born from IVF.  Parents can choose the eggs and sperm with the genetics they want their children to have.  IVF can also be used to select certain eggs and sperm to avoid having children born with a genetic disease.  This is done by using IVF to produce embryos, then pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis to select an embryo that does not have the genetic defeat. 

Some questions to leave you with:

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