The Great Eugenics/Genetic Counselling Debate

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honeywhite
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First, here's the definition of eugenics I'll use: it's selective breeding for humans, to remove undesirable traits. That's all. It's nothing political, it's nothing Nazi, it's nothing against freedom. In fact you yourself can participate in eugenics by having your genes checked and not having children if you might pass on a serious disease.

Here's the question: is it a good idea to subsidise birth control/vasectomies for carriers of genetic defects? Furthermore, if you are pro-CHOICE, is it a good idea to subsidise abortions of infants found to have, beyond a reasonable doubt, a serious genetic defect?

For instance, father and mother are cystic fibrosis carriers. Cystic fibrosis is a lifespan-shortening and painful autosomal recessive disorder, which means that if both are carriers, there's a 25% chance of cystic fibrosis at birth and a 50% chance of a cystic fibrosis carrier.

Similarly, Huntington's chorea is an autosomal *dominant* disorder. Also very disabling, leads to dementia by the age of 40 and death by the age of 50. If any one parent is a Huntington's chorea sufferer, the resultant child will have Huntington's chorea half the time. If both are Huntingtonians, the chance of the child being sick increases to 75%. Is it ethical to offer a subsidised birth control plan or vasectomy to one or both parents?

Another example: mother carries baby, amniocentesis reveals Down's syndrome. Down's is a *chromosomal* disorder, so it's impossible to prevent, but an abortion can be given if Down's is apparent after conception. Should this similarly be subsidised?
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by honeywhite)
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So firstly, you say that eugenics is "selective breeding... to remove undesirable traits" and then claim "it's nothing against freedom". Well, it kinda is against freedom if you don't allow people to reproduce because you don't want these 'undesirable' traits to be passed on!

Also, what gives you the right to decide what are undesirable traits? I think this is quite an arrogant perspective. Let's take the Down's example where you've got an embryo which we know is going to develop downs. You are taking the perspective that terminating this birth is merciful because you think a life without Down's is better than a life with Down's. What right do you have to assume this? If you asked everyone with Down's the question "Would you rather exist as you do at the moment or not exist at all", I am fairly certain that everyone, if not practically everyone would say "I would rather be alive".

Life is life, even if it isn't your perception of a normal or 'good' life. Remember, from the perspective of the unborn child, it's not a choice between a 'normal' life and a disabled life. It's a choice between a disabled life and no life at all. A lot of people seem to forget this or don't understand this.
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honeywhite
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(Original post by Chlorophile)
So firstly, you say that eugenics is "selective breeding... to remove undesirable traits" and then claim "it's nothing against freedom". Well, it kinda is against freedom if you don't allow people to reproduce because you don't want these 'undesirable' traits to be passed on!
It's nothing against freedom in that a good eugenics scheme isn't forced (aka get a vasectomy or go to prison/get shot/get a financial penalty). A good eugenics scheme should only be incentivised (get a vasectomy and get five hundred quid).

Also, in most cases (with autosomal disorders) abortion of an embryo would not be necessary---birth control for the mother, father, or both would do it, and this would similarly be financially compensated and reversible.
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by honeywhite)
It's nothing against freedom in that a good eugenics scheme isn't forced (aka get a vasectomy or go to prison/get shot/get a financial penalty). A good eugenics scheme should only be incentivised (get a vasectomy and get five hundred quid).

Also, in most cases (with autosomal disorders) abortion of an embryo would not be necessary---birth control for the mother, father, or both would do it, and this would similarly be financially compensated and reversible.
But again, it comes down to the disturbing arrogance that your genes are superior. The only difference between the scheme that you're proposing and the Nazi eugenics scheme is that one's optional and one's compulsory. Yes, the Nazi scheme is a lot more draconian, unfair and morally indefensible. But the rationale behind them is the same: my genes are superior.

So let's say we accept that it's for the good of humanity that we get rid of the genes for Cystic Fibrosis. Where does it go next? It's an incredibly slippery slope that could go from very mild eugenics to serious eugenics. Let's use Autism as an example. Most ordinary people think that autism is a disability and that people would be happier without it. Well, from the perspective of most autistic people, the so called 'neurotypicals' are the disabled ones, not them. Yet using your idea, it's perfectly acceptable to eliminate them from the gene pool (obviously autism isn't completely genetic but it's an example).
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honeywhite
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(Original post by Chlorophile)
But again, it comes down to the disturbing arrogance that your genes are superior. The only difference between the scheme that you're proposing and the Nazi eugenics scheme is that one's optional and one's compulsory. Yes, the Nazi scheme is a lot more draconian, unfair and morally indefensible. But the rationale behind them is the same: my genes are superior.

So let's say we accept that it's for the good of humanity that we get rid of the genes for Cystic Fibrosis. Where does it go next? It's an incredibly slippery slope that could go from very mild eugenics to serious eugenics. Let's use Autism as an example. Most ordinary people think that autism is a disability and that people would be happier without it. Well, from the perspective of most autistic people, the so called 'neurotypicals' are the disabled ones, not them. Yet using your idea, it's perfectly acceptable to eliminate them from the gene pool (obviously autism isn't completely genetic but it's an example).
Here's your clue: Most ordinary people think that autism is a disability. I don't think it would be a slippery slope at all. Society should decide which diseases to eliminate. If a cure for autism were discovered, most people would go ahead and use it---if this cure were a test to be taken at conception, people would use morning-after pills after a positive result.

I personally think a late-term or even an early-term abortion isn't morally right, but for those that do believe in choice in this regard, I think that taking the choice to abort after tests show serious defects should be seriously incentivised.
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by honeywhite)
Here's your clue: Most ordinary people think that autism is a disability. I don't think it would be a slippery slope at all. Society should decide which diseases to eliminate. If a cure for autism were discovered, most people would go ahead and use it---if this cure were a test to be taken at conception, people would use morning-after pills after a positive result.

I personally think a late-term or even an early-term abortion isn't morally right, but for those that do believe in choice in this regard, I think that taking the choice to abort after tests show serious defects should be seriously incentivised.
I cannot believe how bigoted you are! The fact that most ordinary people think that autism is a disability doesn't mean that it is a disability, nor does it mean you wipe it out. As someone with an autistic spectrum disorder, I wouldn't have it removed for the world and I find it disgusting that some people seriously believe that it is a moral or good thing to remove it.

If the moral reasons aren't enough to convince you, consider this. If there were no autism, then you would immediately remove some of history's greatest geniuses, some of the greatest contributors to mankind. It's this incredibly arrogance that you are the 'perfect' human being, that all other types of minds are inferior. It is this exact ideology that the Nazi regime proposed.
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honeywhite
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(Original post by Chlorophile)
I cannot believe how bigoted you are! The fact that most ordinary people think that autism is a disability doesn't mean that it is a disability, nor does it mean you wipe it out. As someone with an autistic spectrum disorder, I wouldn't have it removed for the world and I find it disgusting that some people seriously believe that it is a moral or good thing to remove it.

If the moral reasons aren't enough to convince you, consider this. If there were no autism, then you would immediately remove some of history's greatest geniuses, some of the greatest contributors to mankind. It's this incredibly arrogance that you are the 'perfect' human being, that all other types of minds are inferior. It is this exact ideology that the Nazi regime proposed.
I'm not bigoted, I'm a Tory (joke). And yes, I'd probably get rid of Newton for certain and Einstein possibly, and maybe even Van Gogh, but someone else would step up to the plate and figure out gravitational theory for sure.

And honestly speaking, I'd probably be one of the first to be terminated under this programme. I am 21 and suffer from: low testosterone, high blood pressure, chronic pain. gout, diabetes, scoliosis, and addictive personality.
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by honeywhite)
I'm not bigoted, I'm a Tory (joke). And yes, I'd probably get rid of Newton for certain and Einstein possibly, and maybe even Van Gogh, but someone else would step up to the plate and figure out gravitational theory for sure.

And honestly speaking, I'd probably be one of the first to be terminated under this programme. I am 21 and suffer from: low testosterone, high blood pressure, chronic pain. gout, diabetes, scoliosis, and addictive personality.
I don't believe you believe in what you're saying. I really do not think you've thought this idea through at all.
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honeywhite
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(Original post by Chlorophile)
I don't believe you believe in what you're saying. I really do not think you've thought this idea through at all.
I have thought this idea through. I may treat it flippantly---I treat everything flippantly, since there isn't a serious bone in my body---but I'm quite honest about my own opinions.

I think the gradual improvement of the human race is something to be celebrated, and I think society has the right to choose what would be an improvement and what would be a detriment. Eugenics is a reality today, although the name has been poisoned by Hitler's regime and it is now called "prenatal diagnosis" or "genetic counselling", and it certainly isn't subsidised or all that affordable.

By the way, even sickle-cell anaemia could be cured this way, and I'm sure sickle-cell patients would certainly welcome it. Sickle-cell anaemia leads to extreme pain through the entire body, and death by the age of thirty. There is no benefit to sickle-cell anaemia except a slight immunity to malaria, a disease cureable by normal means; even if there were a nominal benefit to autism, at least diseases like cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anaemia could be eliminated via appropriate use of birth control (not abortion---autosomal diseases, remember?).

Although I'm inclined to get rid of autistics if I could; getting rid of all autistics would mean getting rid of James Joyce (THANK GOD!), Bill Gates (THANK GOD AND ALL THAT IS HOLY!) and possibly Alan Turing (shame!).
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by honeywhite)
I have thought this idea through. I may treat it flippantly---I treat everything flippantly, since there isn't a serious bone in my body---but I'm quite honest about my own opinions.

I think the gradual improvement of the human race is something to be celebrated, and I think society has the right to choose what would be an improvement and what would be a detriment. Eugenics is a reality today, although the name has been poisoned by Hitler's regime and it is now called "prenatal diagnosis" or "genetic counselling", and it certainly isn't subsidised or all that affordable.

By the way, even sickle-cell anaemia could be cured this way, and I'm sure sickle-cell patients would certainly welcome it. Sickle-cell anaemia leads to extreme pain through the entire body, and death by the age of thirty. There is no benefit to sickle-cell anaemia except a slight immunity to malaria, a disease cureable by normal means; even if there were a nominal benefit to autism, at least diseases like cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anaemia could be eliminated via appropriate use of birth control (not abortion---autosomal diseases, remember?).

Although I'm inclined to get rid of autistics if I could; getting rid of all autistics would mean getting rid of James Joyce (THANK GOD!), Bill Gates (THANK GOD AND ALL THAT IS HOLY!) and possibly Alan Turing (shame!).
It's not a particularly good idea to go around saying how you'd like to wipe out autistic people, regardless of whether or not you're joking.
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honeywhite
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(Original post by Chlorophile)
It's not a particularly good idea to go around saying how you'd like to wipe out autistic people, regardless of whether or not you're joking.
Even if you disagree with abortions post amniocentesis. what about the birth control idea? There's no termination of life there; it's simply pro-actively ensuring that birth defects grow less common.
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by honeywhite)
Even if you disagree with abortions post amniocentesis. what about the birth control idea? There's no termination of life there; it's simply pro-actively ensuring that birth defects grow less common.
I still completely disagree. It still comes down to the idea of an ubermensch. I suppose there are some potential benefits you could get from it, but the risks vastly outweigh any tangible benefit you could obtain.
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username739587
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Many genetic diseases are inherited, but a proportion (around 20% in the case of CF) occur 'de novo'. This means that even if you killed everyone who carried the D F508 gene (most common CF mutation) then you would STILL get people developing CF due to new mutations.
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honeywhite
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(Original post by Chlorophile)
I still completely disagree. It still comes down to the idea of an ubermensch. I suppose there are some potential benefits you could get from it, but the risks vastly outweigh any tangible benefit you could obtain.
Nothing wrong with being an übermensch---means you've discarded the fairy-tale stories of "good" and "evil" and you've come up with your own morality.
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honeywhite
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(Original post by stroppyninja)
Many genetic diseases are inherited, but a proportion (around 20% in the case of CF) occur 'de novo'. This means that even if you killed everyone who carried the D F508 gene (most common CF mutation) then you would STILL get people developing CF due to new mutations.
Understood, but at least you'd lessen the chance. You can't make the world perfect, but you can make it a better place.
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by honeywhite)
Nothing wrong with being an übermensch---means you've discarded the fairy-tale stories of "good" and "evil" and you've come up with your own morality.
"Nothing wrong with being an übermensch"

That mindset is how the greatest atrocities of the 20th Century started.
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honeywhite
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(Original post by Chlorophile)
"Nothing wrong with being an übermensch"

That mindset is how the greatest atrocities of the 20th Century started.
All right, then, who has the right to determine what is "good" and what is "evil" if not yourself?
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by honeywhite)
All right, then, who has the right to determine what is "good" and what is "evil" if not yourself?
You can decide your own perspective, but you have no right to project your ideals onto others. Policy should be based on fact, not emotion. And the fact of the matter is that there is no objective evidence to back up the claim that there exists an ubermensch.

Seriously, don't even go there. It's not something I want to discuss. There are some things you just need to leave because they're too dangerous. We learnt what happens when a group of people get the mindset that they're superior to others in World War II. Millions and millions of people sacrificed their lives for that and the least we can do is learn a lesson from it.
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Juichiro
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Consider the following:

A product is developed that removes all neurodevelopmental disorders from a person. How many do you think would not take it?

And soon after this product is improved so that it allows limb growth. How many severe physically impaired people do you think would not take it?

What about sense-enhancement products for people with auditive problems or blindness? How many people use auditory enhancement products?

I think few people would reject the chance to use these products if they could afford them. This implies that it is desirable for most of us to avoid suffering from impairments if one can help it. This in turn implies that an impairment-free life is better than an unimpaired life everything else being equal.

Now think about parents expecting a baby with impairments. They have the chance to improve the baby using some of the above products. How many parents do you think would not use the above products?

Now think about parents expecting a baby with impairments. The fetus is in its early stages, it has NO CNS yet. The parents have the chance to abort the fetus and undergo a therapy to reduce risk of impairments on the next fetus. Why is it right for all the above people to choose an impairment-free life but wrong for these parents to choose an impairment-free life?
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ResidentSocio
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Eugenics is a good idea. People with serious inheritable disorders only reproduce because they are selfish. They want a child. Adoption is the best option for them - their biological child will likely have severe problems, and to be frank they'll be more trouble than they're worth both to themselves and everybody looking after them.
It is selfish to want to bring a genetically abnormal child in to the world. Many people will feel sorry for the child, so why not the parents?
Would you not rather have a happy population? One that didn't actively bring diseased people into the world?
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