I’d like to add an observation. I am absolutely positive that the word eugenics will continue to be used to describe eugenics people don’t like. We’ll have some other word for the eugenics that enlightened liberals and other moderns will endorse. I’ve made a similar point about censorship countless times. Almost everyone favors some censorship — my personal favorite example is the blanket ban on hardcore porn during Saturday morning broadcast television viewing hours — but when we support censorship we call it something else, “sensible regulation” or “commonsense restraint.” Similarly, liberals have called conservative opponents of internationalism “isolationists” for generations. When liberals oppose international efforts, they call it any number of things, from “anti-imperialism” to “reality-based foreign policy.” I’m writing a column on this as we speak.
If all eugenics means is “good birth” or “well born” – which was Francis Galton’s definition — then women who take prenatal vitamins, play music to their fetuses and — yes — women who screen for genetic abnormalities all subscribe to eugenics to one extent or another. But since those are things “enlightened” and informed people do, few use the word “eugenics” to describe them.
What will be interesting is this: What happens when or if they find a “therapy” for making sure your kids don’t turn out homosexual. They’re already working on that with sheep. And it seems more possible today than when I raised the topic here. Right now, out of ideological conviction and coalitional allegiance, many on the left see gay rights and reproductive freedom as linked causes. If it turns out — as many now think — that homosexuality is linked to certain hormones received in utero and if that process can be tinkered with, it will be very interesting to see who starts shouting “eugenics!” and who doesn’t when/if pregnant women can take an anti-gay pill (never mind when/if they start aborting their gay fetuses).