Preventing Genetic Impairments

Does It Discriminate against People with Disabilities?
  • Helga Kuhse


The eugenic philosophies and policies of the 19th and early 20th century cast a dark shadow over contemporary genetics. In Europe, Great Britain and the United States, and in particular in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and early 1940’s, eugenic practices were widespread. These practices included programs directed at the mass elimination of certain populations and groups, as well as the non-voluntary sterilization of the mentally disabled and criminally insane. In the United States, for example, the constitutionality of sterilization laws was upheld in the infamous 1927 US Supreme Court decision Buck v. Bell, when justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, jr. defended a compulsory sterilization order for Carrie Buck with the words: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough” (1927, pp. 1000–1002).


Prenatal Diagnosis Spina Bifida Cochlear Implant Social Construct Disable People 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helga Kuhse
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Human BioethicsMonash UniversityClayton VicAustralia

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