GSL Online

Gender & Sexuality Law Online is a webjournal published by the Columbia Law School Center for Gender & Sexuality Law.

Eugenics Then and Now

Author: Afiya Pascall, LLM 2010

Abstract: This paper considers eugenics broadly with particular emphasis on its use to repress the reproduction of poor minority women. It starts by looking at the historical development of eugenics and foundational facially valid justifications that gave the practice legitimacy. It then considers modern day practices in the immigration and welfare arenas which, when scrutinized, reveal a eugenic intent to stifle reproduction with a gender and status bias against poor minority women. The foundational justifications are used as a theme throughout the paper to pierce the veil of social betterment that masks eugenic intentions. Finally it looks at recent uses of products of scientific and technological development, namely, in-vitro fertilization and surrogate birth by Nadya Suleman and Michael Jackson and societal responses to demonstrate the eugenic implications that have arisen even out of this scientific breakthrough. Though society has come a long way by denouncing the practice of blatant eugenics, a subtle and sophisticated form still persists in many aspects of its policy and institutions. Individuals must be cognizant of this before any true enlightenment and change could occur.

Full Article: Eugenics Then and Now

Subjects: Gender Identity Discrimination, Reproductive Rights, Sex Discrimination


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