Friday, December 30, 2011

Crypto Eugenics and Its Connection to Birth Control and Abortions

While there are similarities in the struggle for reproductive justice as far as white women and minority women go, our fight and our struggles are on a wider spectrum. That should be noted, examined, and acknowledged.  
-My boss, a Native American activist & revolutionary
My feelings towards abortion and birth control are double edged to say the least. I believe in birth control and that a woman has a right at all times to choose what she will or will not do to her body. However, I realize that when it comes to minority women, the poor, as well as the disabled, the aim of birth control and abortion come from Crypto Eugenics (Population control). If you’re unfamiliar with eugenics or Crypto Eugenics, trust that you're not the only one. I know about Crypto Eugenics because it is an issue that I have to personally write about for my job which involves the reproductive rights of Native American and minority women.

So here’s a little history...

In 1883 Sir Frances Galton (Cousin to Charles Darwin) founded the Eugenics program in order to create a more fit society by ridding society of what he deemed unfit. The term eugenics comes from the Greek, meaning “well bred.” Unfit or undesired persons are by eugenics definition poor, and or minority persons. Galton’s goal was to take Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest and mix the theory with Gregory Mendel’s plant genetics theory (Reynolds, D, 2002). 

There are two forms of Eugenics, positive and negative. Positive eugenics seeks to have people with “good bloodlines” predominantly reproducing. In plain terms, it is to increase the reproduction rates of “fit” persons. Negative eugenics takes a more aggressive approach and has a structure much like social Darwinism in that only a certain amount of the population should be able to have children and the other undesired portion of the population ought to be sterilized. In other words, it is decreasing the reproducation rate of “unfit” persons through means of forced sterilization, contraception, and abortion.

Both forms of eugenics sought to eliminate society of people they considered to be burdens on the taxpayers’ pockets and also burdens to society. It was believed that if these societal “burdens” were sterilized, those of higher social status would create a utopia in which the lower classes of persons and those deemed undesirable did not exist. Galton is quoted as saying “Eugenics is the agencies of under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations either physically or mentally.”

Even persons who held high office such as President Theodore Roosevelt supported eugenics and forced sterilization. Roosevelt is quoted in saying “Society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind. Any group of farmers who permitted their stock not to breed and let the increase come from the worst stock would be treated as fit inmates for an asylum.” Eugenicist sought to enforce in society, fitter family models. Pedigree charts were created to show what “defective” families looked like (MINORITIES!). Traits such as feeblemindedness were attributed to being genetically passed down from one generation to another ("Origins of Eugenics," 2004).

These notions aren’t as ancient as one would think them to be. Currently there is a very active Eugenics society in the United Kingdom as well as the U.S. with organizations like Project C.R.A.C.K. (Children Requiring A Caring Kommunity), now known as Project Prevention. Project Prevention offers a monetary incentive for women who are addicted to drugs in exchange for them to be sterilized or put on long term birth control such as an I.U.D. (Intrauternie Device) or Depo Provera. Depo Provera has been proven to have horrible and lasting side effects on those who are injected with the drug. Project Prevention advertises billboards in poor and minority communities with signs such as “Don’t let your baby destroy your drug habit.” (I’m so serious!)

Abortion and birth control are so much more than merely women's rights issues. They stem from the belief that only a few should be allowed to reproduce. While I do believe it is a woman’s choice, I am aware of the staggering statistics associated with Black and Latin women compared to white women in the matter of abortion. Black women account for 36.5% of U.S. abortions, but only constitute 12% of the population ("Abortion and Race," 2011). I’m also aware of the beginnings of programs such as Planned Parenthood, founded by Margaret Sanger, who blatantly said she wanted to eliminate the Black race. You can read more about her views on eugenics at Margaret Sanger: In Her Own Words.

Just a little food for thought.

References

Abortion and Race. (2011). Abort73.com. Retrieved from http://www.abort73.com/abortion/abortion_and_race/

Origins of eugenics. (2004, January 12). Eugenics: Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Virginia Eugenics & Buck vs. Bell. Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, Charlottesville, VA. Retrieved from http://www.hsl.virginia.edu/historical/eugenics/2-origins.cfm

Reynolds, D. (2003, November/December). The eugenics apologies. Ragged Edge Online, 24(6). Retrieved from http://www.ragged-edge-mag.com/1103/1103ft1.html

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