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ERIC Number: EJ797168
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-May-16
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Medical Genetics Is Not Eugenics
Cowan, Ruth Schwartz
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n36 pB12 May 2008
The connection that critics make between medical genetics and eugenics is historically fallacious. Activists on the political right are as mistaken as activists on the political left: Genetic screening was not eugenics in the past, is not eugenics in the present, and, unless its technological systems become radically transformed, will not be eugenics in the future. The chief goal of the eugenicists, "improvement of the race," was never one of the goals of genetic screening--and it did not become one, even after genomic research had identified the locations of dozens of disease-causing mutations. From the very beginning, the founders of medical genetics--people like Neel, Fritz Fuchs, Michael Kaback, and Robert Guthrie--viewed their basic project as the relief of human suffering, not improvement of the race. Geneticists wanted to reduce the suffering of both parents and children by helping the parents to have additional children, and by ensuring that those additional children would be free of the disease. As such, the author contends that parents should not feel guilty when they participate in genetic screening and that historians, social scientists, and journalists to stop warning about its hidden eugenic evils.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A