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Eugenic Euphemisms: Protecting our children from diseases—and ugly truths
Next week, Barack Obama will be inaugurated as president of the United States. There will be parties, cameras, a ceremony, and a parade. The world will watch and celebrate. In politics, revolutions are clearly marked. Social revolutions that emerge from science, however, are often overlooked. One of those revolutions is happening right now, a week before Obama’s inauguration, across the Atlantic Ocean. “First baby tested for breast cancer form BRCA1 before conception born in UK,” says the press release from University College London. “The first baby tested preconceptionally for a genetic form of breast cancer (BRCA1) has been born.” The release quotes Paul Serhal, medical director of the hospital’s Assisted Conception Unit: “This little girl will not face the specter of developing this genetic form of breast cancer or ovarian cancer in her adult life. The parents will have been spared the risk of inflicting this disease on their daughter. “The lasting legacy is the eradication of the transmission of this form of cancer that has blighted these families for generations.” Lasting. Legacy. Eradication. Families. Generations. We’re no longer talking about protecting an individual. We’re talking about cleansing families forever. “We are eliminating the gene from our line,” says the happy mother. Serhal agrees: “We are eradicating it from the whole family tree.” From the standpoint of efficiency, this is wonderful. But efficiency and collective cleansing are the core principles of eugenics. Even if your daughter doesn’t get breast cancer from the gene, why burden her with the question of whether to test her own embryos for it? Why not make the decision for her, and for her daughters, and for their daughters?


January 14, 2009 - Posted by | Eugenics

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