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Journal of No. 118

June 22nd, 2004

Goodbye, you are the weakest fetus. @ 01:58 pm

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One of the things I forgot to put in my previous entry was

#8 Some troglodyte tore off Becca's Darwinfish and half of an anti-Bush bumpersticker ("Somewhere in Texas, a village is missing its idiot").

Anyway, Toren inquired about my eugenics statement:
"No one will ever feel pity for the poster child of the eugenics movement. Think about it."
I did think about it but I'm done now. Explain!

Well, as the FreeDictionary succinctly puts it, a poster child is "a child afflicted by some disease or deformity whose picture is used on posters to raise money for charitable purposes." But a successful child of the eugenics movement would have no diseases or abnormalities, so no one would feel sorry for it.

Anyway, my sentence was prompted by this NYTimes article describing how amniocentesis and other diagnostic methods are giving parents more and earlier information about the fetus, leading to a "grassroots eugenics movement" as parents decide to terminate pregnancies for various reasons. Sure, I can understand someone not wanting to have an anancephalic child (click at your own risk, or one with Down's syndrome or cystic fibrosis, but some of the reasons are becoming trivial:

"Dr. Jonathan Lanzkowsky, an obstetrician affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, described one woman who had been born with an extra finger, which was surgically removed when she was a child. Her children have a 50-50 chance of inheriting the condition, but she is determined not to let that happen. Detecting the extra digit through early ultrasounds, she has terminated two pregnancies so far, despite doctors' efforts to persuade her to do otherwise, Dr. Lanzkowsky said.

Other doctors said that they had seen couples terminate pregnancies for poor vision, whose effect they had witnessed on a family member, or a cleft palate, which they worried would affect the quality of their child's life.

In an extreme case, Dr. Mark Engelbert, an obstetrician/gynecologist on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, said he had performed an abortion for a woman who had three girls and wanted a boy."

A very debatable topic. Eugenics of 100 years ago included the sterilization of the unfit, generally without their consent. That's clearly reprehensible.
Now, parents are making their own choice to terminate a pregnancy. Abortion is legal, so what's the problem? The woman who wants a boy is making a decision no more casually than a woman who has an abortion for convenience or as a form of birth control. But it still gives me the willies. Perhaps it's because she wants a child... just not that one.
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Date:June 22nd, 2004 05:15 pm (UTC)
Jasper Becker's The Chinese notes that increasing availability of ultrasound machines may have contributed to the reduction in female births in China. The government has repeatedly forbidden medical clinics from using medical checks to identify the sex of unborn children.
Date:June 22nd, 2004 09:13 pm (UTC)
A similar thing is happening in India; the government has likewise made laws against using ultrasound to determine the sex of fetuses, but of course it happens a lot anyway. It's still an improvement on the old technique - infanticide.

On a related note...someone long ago defaced our "Save the Planet: Kill Yourself" bumper sticker on the truck, after trying and failing to pull it off. The "Stop Breeding" one remains untouched, however. I suppose you could infer some sort of pro-family planning, anti-euthanasia trend, but it probably has more to do with the fact that the second sticker has only been on there a year.

We made it cross country twice with our Darwin fish, however. We drove fast.

I hope your spirit of vehicluar free speech continues!
Date:June 23rd, 2004 02:09 pm (UTC)
Please provide more "click at your own risk" links.
Thank you,

Journal of No. 118