The Quiet Progress of the ‘New Eugenics’


In 1945, after the revelations of the Nazi-directed killing of “useless eaters”, mostly the physically and mentally disabled, eugenics had a bad name. However, as memories faded, the advocates of racial hygiene produced a repackaged “new eugenics”. Instead of harping on about the cost to the state to care for “imbeciles”, the new eugenicist focuses on the unbearable suffering of a disabled child and their families, and this in the eyes of medical experts justifies a mother’s “right to choose” to deal “humanely” with a Down Syndrome or otherwise disabled baby. This “choice” is normalized and given legitimacy by establishing a national screening programme and offering free abortions up to birth. It seems that the “new” is much the same as the “old”.

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