Eugenics is a reality

November 15, 2002

Ian Wilmut's review of Genetic Politics (Books, November 8) ignores how the disability discourse has been hijacked by anti-abortionists.

The obligatory denunciation of "eugenics" is one way of refusing to debate reality. We are living in the most eugenic age, yet the E word is avoided and replaced with problematic terms such as "reproductive rights", "parental choice", "procreative autonomy" and so on.

Developments in embryo, stem-cell research and other reproductive technologies have produced a Promethean loss of genetic innocence.

Procedures that allow a choice on whether or not to terminate a pregnancy are eugenic. The state-regulated adoption process is eugenic by implication as it purports to seek the "best parents".

Genetic data do not have to discriminate and counselling can be used positively to help individuals and their offspring to remove the risk of haemoglobinometries such as thalassaemia, sickle cell, and Tay-Sachs. Even those who denounce "eugenics" practise it in real life.

Martin Zeki
London

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