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Health

Man as an instrument & eugenics

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanAugust 1, 2007 8:45 PM

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There has been a lot of comment on the blogosphere about eugenics. From the Right, Ross Douthat here, here & here, from the Left Ezra Klein here, here & here, Kevin Drum here & Henry Farrell here. And from the libertarian angle the Elf here. Since a few of my posts were referenced I added a bit here & here. I think I'm pretty clear about "eugenics," and biological technologies. I'm not a "bio-utopian," but I think the future is coming and we need to grapple with it. I'm not scared of the word eugenics, but accept that the new biological technologies and choices will have a far broader purview than the original eugenics, and of course the term is a non-starter in any case. My attitude is that we have to be pragmatic and need to shy away from grand pronouncements and take things on a case by case basis. For example, here is a story from England, 'Use IVF to create more saviour siblings':

For the first time, couples could use so-called "saviour siblings" to treat other family members suffering the kind of serious but non-fatal ailments that affect millions. Presently the law allows parents to use IVF procedures to select embryos that will be a genetic match to older siblings with life-threatening diseases, such as a rare blood disorder. But a joint House of Commons and Lords committee today calls for the law to be relaxed to include other illnesses. This could lead to children being created to help treat diseases such as sickle-cell anaemia, renal failure, kidney disorders and spinal diseases.

So how do you feel about this? That's a much more fruitful and relevant discussion than the historical resonances of the term eugenics. Related: My posts on eugenics.

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