Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Eugenics-an idea whose time has (hopefully) gone

The July 9, 2007 issue of AMANEWS (subscription required) features a two page piece on the eugenics movement in the United States, highlighting the sterilization practices in the state of Indiana which has the unfortunate distinction of being the first state( and the first government entity in any country ) to enact a eugenic sterilization law. This may come as a surprise to some that the U.S. did this before Nazi Germany did.

Those who were complicit, directly or indirectly, included several past presidents of the AMA who were described by the article as being "affiliated with the ..movement" and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who in his opinion upholding the 1927 Indiana law stated " Three generation of imbeciles are enough."

A key element in the Nazification of German doctors was the acceptance of the notion that they were the physicians of the Volk and that their loyalty and duty was to the collective and not the individual. Once the idea that the individual should be sacrificed for the good of the group, there is no limit to the atrocities that may follow.

2,400 persons from Indiana were sterilized without their consent as well a total of 64,000 throughout the country as some 31 other states passed similar laws.

The article's author states:

"One important brake on a resurgence of eugenics, experts agree, is physicians' insistence on putting the welfare of individual patients before society's interest"

Also quoted is Dr. Paul. A. Lombardo who has written about the eugenics saga:

"The ethical grounding of the medical profession is in treating disease and caring for people,not caring, as the Nazis did , for the state or the larger collective."

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