Eugenics refers to a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population.
Initially, eugenicists attempted to alter human gene pools by excluding people and groups judged to be inferior or promoting those judged to be superior.
The term has been altered by the usage of new technologies such as CRISPR and genetic screenings.
It has been regarded as a way of improving groups of people.
Contemporary usage of the term eugenics is closely associated with scientific racism.
Modern bioethicists who advocate new eugenics characterize it as a way of enhancing individual traits, regardless of group membership.
A criticism of eugenics policies is they are susceptible to abuse because the genetic selection criteria are determined by whichever group has political power at the time.
Negative eugenics is a violation of basic human rights, as includes the right to reproduce.
Eugenics policies eventually lead to a loss of genetic diversity, thereby resulting in inbreeding depression due to a loss of genetic variation.
Eugenics policies propose to permanently and artificially disrupt millions of years of evolution, and that attempting to create genetic lines can have far-reaching downstream effects in the genetic ecology, including negative effects on immunity and on species resilience.
Types of eugenic practices have existed for millennia.
Eugenics rejected the doctrine that all human beings are born equal..
Eugenicists redefined moral worth purely in terms of genetic fitness.
Its racist elements pursued pure races or the eventual elimination of “unfit” races.
Eugenics reached its greatest popularity in the early decades of the 20th century, when it was practiced around the world and promoted by governments, institutions, and influential individuals.
The enactment of eugenics policies: genetic screenings, birth control, promoting differential birth rates, marriage restrictions, segregation by race, sequestering the mentally ill, compulsory sterilization, forced abortions or forced pregnancies, ultimately culminating in genocide.
The ability to do gene selection rather than people selection has become possible due to genome editing and has established neo eugenics which focuses on individual freedom and moves away from racism, sexism, heterosexism or focus on intelligence.
Prenatal screening is considered by some a contemporary form of eugenics because it may lead to abortions of fetuses with undesirable traits.
Eugenic policies are divided into two categories.
Positive eugenics is aimed at encouraging reproduction among the genetically advantaged; the intelligent, the healthy, and the successful.
Negative eugenics aimed to eliminate, through sterilization or segregation, those deemed physically, mentally, or morally undesirable.
Both positive and negative eugenics can be coercive.
Eugenics lowers the prevalence of recessive diseases, although not influencing the prevalence of heterozygote carriers of those diseases.
The elevated prevalence of certain genetically transmitted diseases among the Ashkenazi Jewish population (Tay–Sachs, cystic fibrosis, Canavan’s disease, and Gaucher’s disease), has been decreased in current populations by the application of genetic screening.
Eugenics can cause harmful loss of genetic diversity.
A culturally-accepted notion of an improved gene pool may result in extinction, due to increased vulnerability to disease, reduced ability to adapt to environmental change, and other factors that may not be anticipated.
Due to the complexity of human genetics, culture, and psychology, there are no agreed objective means of determining which traits might be ultimately desirable or undesirable.
Examples: sickle-cell disease conferring, immunity to malaria, and cystic fibrosis resistance to cholera.
Eugenics previously had more to do with sterilization and enforced reproduction laws.
In the age of a progressively mapped genome, embryos can be tested for susceptibility to disease, gender, and genetic defects, and alternative methods of reproduction such as in vitro fertilization are becoming more common.
It is instead preemptive action on the unborn.
The worst view, of eugenics is the return of coercive state-sponsored genetic discrimination and human rights violations such as compulsory sterilization of persons with genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, specifically, segregation and genocide of races perceived as inferior.
The use of these technologies could lead to such human-posthuman caste warfare.
Environmental ethicists argued against germinal choice technology and other advanced biotechnological strategies for human enhancement,as it would morally be wrong for humans to tamper with fundamental aspects of themselves, or their children, in an attempt to overcome universal human limitations, such as vulnerability to aging, maximum life span and biological constraints on physical and cognitive ability.
Such manipulation would remove limitations that provide a necessary context for the experience of meaningful human choice.
Others claim that the change from state-led reproductive-genetic decision-making to individual choice has moderated the worst abuses of eugenics by transferring the decision-making from the state to the patient and their family: the eugenics drives to eliminate disease, live longer and healthier, with greater intelligence, and a better adjustment to the conditions of society.
Some aspects of modern genetics can be classified as eugenics.
Others encourage as wide an adoption of eugenic enhancement technologies as possible that do not infringe on individuals’ reproductive rights or exert undue pressures on prospective parents to use these technologies to maximize public health and minimize the inequalities that may result from both natural genetic endowments and unequal access to genetic enhancements: to take steps to preserve the general level of natural abilities and to prevent the diffusion of serious defects.