What is free choice ?

The bio-social movement of Eugenics proned the idea that some inherent features to our society such as poverty, alcoholism,.. were transmitted by hereditary means and so the way of improving the human race would be to prevent some human beings form reproducing. From the beginning of the 20th century, 50 States of the Union adopted laws for sterilization of people. More than 6,000 people were sterilized during that period of time.

The tragic epoqua of the Eugenics movement in American history made me think about the idea of free choice. Because of such believes, some individuals were taken parts of their body and capacity of procreating from them. The worst part being that they were, most of the time, not aware of the situation. They didn’t have any free choice in these events since they were not aware of the consequences of it. Eugenics is the opposite of free choice because of this idea of features that human beings cannot control by themselves, but at the same time the United States in the country of freedom. I find it very dangerous when laws start preventing people from their free choice.

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3 Responses to What is free choice ?

  1. dcleahy says:

    I think that eugenics is largely responsible for taking away free choice, and is a prime example of the weaving of privilege and oppression with the idea of free choice. Oppression exists when a privileged set of people, in this case those authorizing eugenics laws, takes away the free choice of non-privileged individuals, in this case those sterilized. All of these big questions of freedom, oppression, and privilege are interwoven because they rely on the hierarchies out culture is based on, and the only real way to remove the possibilities of these acts is to remove or radically alter the system fueling them.

  2. Wolf says:

    I guess one interesting thought about eugenics – and here I am playing the devil’s advocate – is that to what extent can people, especially those of lesser intelligence, control themselves? A movie that illustrates the fear of unintelligent people getting out of control is Idiocracy. In the movie, unintelligent people have been having more kids than the intelligent ones, so over time, the intelligence levels of the human race have lowered. You hear about so many kids not having both parents or no parents at all, homeless kids, kids in abusive homes, do we really need more kids like this brought into the world? I’m not saying that eugenics is justified, but there is some reasonable thought behind sterilizing undesirables. Should unfit parents have their right to have kids taken away? Is there a way to practice eugenics safely? Do not forget that China is pretty effective on limiting the birth rate, if a family has more than 1 child, the parents may be fired from their jobs, denied benefits, etc. Is this a good and moral way to limit one’s ability to have children? For China, it is population control. For people in the eugenics movement, it may be that they want a more selective population control – is that so bad compared to the 1 child policy?

    • sarahe245 says:

      Actually, I think the eugenics movement is worse than the one child policy in China because the eugenics movement discriminates against a particular group while the one child policy is maintained for everyone in China. Also, China is trying to control their population as whole with that policy. The eugenics movement was less about trying to control the population of America and more about controlling the population of a group deemed less worthy of having children. In other words, America’s main concern with the eugenics program was not that the population was rising too fast; rather, it was that the population of the poor and African Americans was rising faster than the upper class and white population. That being said, the one child policy in China is unjust for the same reasons the eugenics movement is unjust. It is a huge restriction on a person’s liberty. The government does not have the right to take away one of the most basic and fundamental human rights of having children. The right of giving birth is so natural for all species that it is so unjust for anyone to take away that right. The eugenics movement is not only taking away that right, but it is also taking away that ability for women and men.

      As for the justification you mentioned, I have no doubt that you are absolutely correct. This was how they defended eugenics. However, that does not make their justification right. Who are we to decide who can have children and who cannot? Who are we to say that their children will be unintelligent and unfit for society? Even if it was true that all people who are unintelligent have unintelligent children, does that give those children any less of a right to life? There are plenty of examples of upper class individuals who grow up to be criminals or “undesirables” as you put it. We cannot restrict other people’s rights and liberties because we assume that their children will be poor or unintelligent. Any justification they tried to give for eugenics was just a cover for their discriminatory agenda against the lower class and African Americans.

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