Roaring Twenties Reprise

Sir Francis Galton introduced the term “eugenics,” meaning well-born, in 1883. His emphasis was on encouraging healthy and capable people, of above-average intelligence, to bear more children, with the idea of building an “improved” human race. The eugenics ideologies that are typically associated with the first half of the twentieth century are much older though they persist, even today. Now they are simply manifest in a different way.

While an individual may reasonably consider what their children might look like upon choosing a mate, a couple would likely be ostracized for using abortion for purposes of selecting a child based upon, say, hair color. In May of 2019, a Supreme Court opinion described abortion as a potential “tool of eugenic manipulation.” The opining Justice was referring to an Indiana abortion law that bans abortion motivated solely by the race, sex or disability of the fetus. He used the history of the eugenics movement to explain why “the use of abortion to achieve eugenic goals is not merely hypothetical.”

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