Ethical Issues Of Eugenics

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The Progressive Era was a time of scientific and economic advances in the United States. The movement aimed to improve American society and perfect the American population. The eugenics movement was part of the Progressives faith in science and the potential of the state to control the population. In 1883 Francis Galton coined the term eugenics: “Eugenics is the science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race” . The American eugenics movement aimed to make the population healthier and more sustainable. This goal was achieved through the discouragement of procreation amongst those with less desired genes (negative eugenics). Even though the term eugenics is well defined, the implementation of the policies designed around it were left open to interpretation; thus causing various moral and ethical issues. The most prominent ethical issues faced by this movement were autonomy and protection. These issues were depicted by the case of Buck v Bell and also resonate in modern day eugenics.…show more content…
Carrie Buck, an 18 year old resident of the state of Virginia was deemed “feeble minded” according to Virginia law - primarily because she bore a child outside of wedlock - and was committed to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble Minded. Nine months later she was petitioned to be sterilized, which was approved by the board of directors of the institution. This petition for sterilization was a perfect example of the abuse and misinterpretation of the aim of the eugenics movement. Buck filed a lawsuit against Dr. J.H. Bell - the superintendent of the institution- for the 5th Amendment right of due process and the 14th Amendment right of equal
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