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A historical perspective on eugenics

Indiana enacted the first eugenic sterilization law in 1907, and the Supreme Court upheld such laws in 1927. Beginning in the late1930s, proponents rationalized involuntary sterilization as protecting vulnerable women from unwanted pregnancy and by World War II, programs in the United States had sterilized some 60,000 people. Today, state enabled programs to deprive people of fertility for eugenic reasons no longer operate and the idea that most forms of mental illness, mental retardation, criminality and social deviance are driven by single gene disorders is scientifically untenable. How has the world of biology and genetics learned from this period of history, and what can we take from these lessons as we move towards a future of increasing technological capability with regards to human genes and traits? Join author, geneticist, and former president of the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Philip R. Reilly, M.D., J.D. as he explores this fascinating subject.

Read the related story: Good genes, bad science