Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign

By Ann Farmer, 421 pages.

Ann Farmer has engaged in tremendous scholarship to show us how the abortion debate in Britain, and elsewhere in the West, was one of many tentacles of the eugenics movement. This group, whose British and American members forged ties to the Nazis, had worked from the 1930s up to the late 1960s to legalize abortion.

Members of the eugenics-abortion movement used deceit to eventually get their way. They lied about who they were and what their real goals were. Even after the world had learned what evil the Nazis had wrought in the name of racial purity, eugenics supporters doggedly pursued their aims, though they now had to cloak their ideals of genetic purity.

They believed that the poor underclasses of their countries, as well as non-whites and people with disabilities, were inferior genetically and therefore less human than they were. Yet, unable to spread their true message openly in the still largely Christian society, they turned things around and claimed to speak for the masses of poor women who, the campaigners believed, didn't want such large families.

Eugenics supporters assumed that women with large families would opt for much smaller families if given a real choice, and that the majority of children in large families were unwanted. Campaigners targeted poor women with brochures and clinics, and pushed the contraception and abortion laws that existed at that time.

Another common lie was the claim that many more backstreet abortions were occurring than actually were. In fact, no proof exists that mothers of large families ever sought or wanted clandestine abortions. The evidence we have shows that wealthy, upper class women with few children had abortions much more frequently.

An important anti-Christian element to eugenics / abortion advocates was their transformation of compassion. Without ever talking to someone with a disability, they claimed to speak on behalf of those with disabilities and their families by advocating the use of abortion to eliminate the unborn with mental or physical limitations. They called this “reform.”

Not surprisingly, violent political ideology was a part of at least some eugenics thinking: “the potential of biological engineering to create the perfect state – actually to create the human building blocks of that state – may have appealed to left-wing eugenicists as a shortcut to revolution.” Some campaigners of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, held Stalin in high regard, not least for the loose Soviet abortion laws (though such campaigners probably failed to mention that many of these abortions were forced and were performed without pain killers).

Eugenics supporters, more than anyone, are responsible for the Culture of Death. By Their Fruits notes: They “helped separate sex from procreation; having legalized abortion, they helped society 'get used to' it. They also helped make motherhood more onerous; now they stand ready to help with the complete separation of mothers from their offspring. No doubt this will be hailed as a kinder alternative to actually giving birth and raising children, and presented as an equality measure in view of the fact that wealthy women have always consigned their children to the care of others.”

The eugenics movement, in other words, is far from having finished its destruction of our civilization.

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