Down's Syndrome and Eugenics Essay

2310 WordsNov 5, 201410 Pages
Is termination of pregnancy when Down’s Syndrome has been diagnosed a form of Eugenics? The discussion of such an emotive subject requires careful consideration, in which terms should be accurately defined and all sides of a constantly shifting argument addressed. To begin, we will examine the origins, development, downfall and eventual resurgence of Eugenic ideas across the globe. We will then continue to define both the condition Down’s syndrome and its connection with the desire to terminate a pregnancy. This essay is not concerned with any moral or religious objections to termination of pregnancy on grounds of health and is solely concerned with establishing whether the driver for such terminations could be called the practice of Eugenics. The term ‘Eugenics’ derives from ancient Greek and means ‘normal or ‘true’ genes. It was first coined by Francis Galton, Victorian polymath and cousin to Charles Darwin, in his 1883 work ‘Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development’. Galton’s conviction that nature rather than nurture was the driving force in dictating the future fortunes of human life are laid down in his 1869 work, Hereditary Genius and is spelt out in the first chapter thus: I have no patience with the hypothesis occasionally expressed, and often implied, especially in tales written to teach children to be good, that babies are born pretty much alike, and that the sole agencies in creating differences between boy and boy, and man and man, are steady application and moral effort. It is in the most unqualified manner that I object to pretensions of natural equality. The experiences of the nursery, the school, the University, and of professional careers, are a chain of proofs to the contrary. Galton 1869, p14 Towards the end of his life, Galton himself provided this definition of the theory to a journalist for an interview with the Jewish

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