From the turn of the century to the mid-1940s, the United States and the United Kingdom formulated and embraced wide-reaching theories of racial and social evolution centered around the transmission of character and behavior traits within the genes of their citizens. Driven largely by white supremacist ideals of genetic purity, eugenics, historically, posited both negative and positive platforms through organizations like the International Race Betterment Society and The Eugenics Congress that sought to protect superior genetic material, and stifle any matter deemed corrupt or contaminated. Negative eugenics established protocols, health and social policies and beginning in 1907 (in Indiana), that conscripted citizens considered “socially defective” to incarceration in asylums, unmarriageable status (marriage licenses denied), and state-sanctioned reproductive sterilization. Similarly, in London, (1908), William Beveridge in addressing a Royal Commission documented 150,000 ‘feeble-minded’ people in Britain, proposing to the body:
“They must be acknowledged dependents of the State…but with
complete and permanent loss of all civil rights – including not
only the franchise but civil freedom and fatherhood.”
Considered among the most un-Constitutional and un-Godly policies of the nation’s history, the sterilizations of yesteryear have become both self-directed and the contraception of choice by increased numbers of fit, whites.
In 1927, with the Supreme Court decision in Buck v. Bell, thirty-three U.S. states won the right to perform tubal ligations, hysterectomies, and vasectomies on their criminal, mentally and intellectually inferior, impoverished, and sexually immoral populations. While many of the eugenic theories and policies associated with “better breeding” proved unscientific and ungrounded by the 1970s, increased numbers of young, healthy, Whites welcome self-directed sterilization to avoid the challenges and pitfalls of parenting.
According to a 2015 Obstetrics & Gynecology study, sterilization counts as the most common method of contraception in the U.S. – with roughly 700,000 women undergoing tubal ligations each year; England’s National Health Services (NHS) performs 40,000 each year. And far from being a simple means of warding off unintended pregnancies, many seeking sterilization voice a strong desire to keep from having children whose personalities and behaviors mirror their own.
British business analyst Rachel Last, from Sussex, told the Independent that she never wanted children
“Since my teens, when friends would sometimes daydream about marriage and babies, I've known I didn't want to be a mother. It's not a feeling over which I have any control, the same way that people can't suddenly change their sexuality,” Last said. “There has never been a time when I have imagined a life for myself with children in it, even when I looked ahead to my 30s and 40s…I'm old enough to choose to have a child if I want one, so I'm old enough to choose not to.”
Further, as birthrates among white females continues to decline across the globe, many European governments have grown increasingly concerned about the “browning” of their nations. Those fears, coupled with tensions over immigration and refugees has catapulted radical nationalist thought and their proponents into the forefront of politics.
According to Yohanna Resnik, a social worker with the London-based Open Arms – a group that helps migrant families settle into England, much of the discussion about newcomers is laced with eugenic fears of losing fit, white genetic stock.
“The fears, on the surface, seem well-placed. Consider, if you will, that a man settling from Syria into London may already have a family, once here, he brings those kids and he and his wife continue to produce children. Compare that alongside the only 1 in 4 white women in the United Kingdom able to conceive by natural means (without in vetro) and the numbers of able-bodied, but uninterested white youth who undergo sterilization for convenience,” Resnik told Acumen. “It means that everywhere you look on London streets, you see tan, brown and black people who a few generations ago, would have been sparse.”
What’s more shocking to Resnik than the desire to remain childless among Britain’s youth, are the numbers who choose not to have children for purely eugenic reasons. While some, she said, feel they too mentally, intellectually, or financially inadequate to manage children, others say that they fear they would pass along genetic deficiencies, including diabetes, depression, and general anxiety.
“The reasoning of some of these young people sounds an awful lot like the public health worker reading from the 1930s eugenics manual on social defectives,” Resnik said. “We do not know – even now, after all the scientific research and genome experiments – what will or will not be passed on from parent to child in the way of disease or deficit. For these young people to ask the National Health Service to sterilize them on the chance that they would not produce a ‘fit’ or ‘perfect’ child, is ridiculous.”
However, a recent documentary by BBC on those who wish to remain childless – Child-Free UK – highlighted the concerns of four individuals whose concerns seemed real enough.
Holly, 30, a news reporter was told she should kill herself, was pointless as a human being for not reproducing, and was being selfish when she made public her decision to have a tubal ligation. She said she felt life was about more than reproducing and that a baby would only interrupt her goals.
“Life is about closing certain doors so that you can open others,” she told reporters. Similarly, Paul, 29 of Hampshire, said he suffered from Type 1 diabetes and depression – but also from a lack of fathering skills.
“I’ve never found much in the way of a parental instinct. If the worst should have occurred and I would have had a child, I would have stepped up to help look after it, but I can’t say I would not resent the child. Tried to get vasectomy from 18 to on – told too young,” he said.
Leonora Patel, a bio-ethicist with the Department of Theology, at St. Mary’s University said the choosing to be sterilized when no medical reason prompts it, is a form of mutilation rather than a real medical procedure.
“Sterilization basically damages a perfectly healthy, working organ. It destroys it; it is a drastic procedure. Medicine is a profession of healing of health of restoring someone to health, so, the very philosophy of medicine is challenged by these procedures,” Patel said. “I would say that sterilization and vasectomy are not good for the human person. Our fertility is not a disease; it’s a gift.”
So, whether onlookers view self-directed sterilization a cop out or a right, hardline eugenicist would likely celebrate the advocates. If a person is that certain of their own deficits and lack, should they not be commended for taking the necessary steps to “not reproduce dysgenicism”?
What say you, Acumen Readers?