Posts Tagged ‘Eugenics’

Eugenics is already being practiced

October 31, 2017

In a survey published in 2008 of the 18 (now 20) countries in EUROCAT, 88% of neural tube defects were detected prenatally and 88% of these were aborted. Of  Downs Syndrome cases, 68% were detected prenatally and 88% of these too were aborted.

Iceland (population of 330,000) has virtually eliminated Downs Syndrome births though in such a small population there are only one or two cases every year. However in Denmark around 98% of Downs Syndrome fetuses are aborted , in France around 77% and even in the US around 67% are aborted.

In Sweden

The mother chose to terminate the pregnancy in 88 percent of cases when the child had anencaphaly, when part of the child’s brain is missing. They also chose abortion in 75 percent of cases where doctors detected bilateral renal agenesis – when the child is missing both kidneys.

Artificial selection

As technology develops, and more fetal abnormalities can be detected, and as abortion becomes less stigmatised, it is not only serious abnormalities which lead to abortion. With abortion on demand, even conditions which are eminently treatable (cleft palate for example) are leading to the choice to abort. The availability and practice of abortion is itself becoming the main vehicle of artificial selection. Correction of fetal defects is usually not possible. Even if genetic “tailoring” for designer babies is not quite there yet, the incidence of fetuses being born with even minor defects is inevitably declining.

Selective abortion is artificial selection, and that is, after all, just eugenics.

Related:

On birth rates, abortions and “eugenics by default”


 

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Inheritance rules

March 8, 2017

Genes surely define the behavioural envelope within which an individual can operate. This envelope, though, is quite wide. Nevertheless, one would think that after some 10,000 generations of evolution as anatomically modern humans, living in societies where cooperation is primal, that all those beneficial behavioural traits which had a genetic component, would have by now been selected. But psychopaths are not extinct, anti-social behaviour is very common and compassion is not a survival trait to be selected for. Barbarism has not been deselected by evolution. It could be that the same genes which give religious fanaticism also give rise to artistic creativity.

One would also have expected that the intelligence we credit humans with, and see as a key differentiating factor from other creatures, would also have been selected as a trait. Of course intelligence is not so easily defined and it certainly is not just the result of an IQ test. There are suggestions, from brain size measurements, that intelligence, as given by brain size, peaked when we were still hunter gatherers, possibly because that was when individuals needed to be very autonomous and – by inference – quite selfish to survive.  IQ tests today are not a good predictor of the success of an individual in society, probably because the test does not capture those aspects of intelligence that have to do with leadership, team work or entrepreneurial ability.

There was a time when light and dark were outside human control. So far we have left evolution to take its slow, natural, wasteful, trial and error course. But the speed of natural selection is now completely out of sync with the speed of change. The few attempts to guide evolution have been discredited by the manner in which they have been applied. They have been based on the principles we have used to breed livestock and dogs by terminating unwanted characteristics and only allowing individuals with desired characteristics to have progeny. The Nazi experiments with eugenics and even Margaret Sanger’s objectives of controlling the black population in the US (by making abortions freely available) were horrible (still are in some instances), in their manner of execution. But the idea of guiding our own evolution is still sound and an idea whose time has still to come. We are already tinkering with eugenics – though in a very amateurish way – when foetuses are aborted, or IVF is used, or when sperm banks are drawn upon, or fertility drugs or surrogacy are employed. Now, we have a sort of eugenics by default. When foetuses are screened genetically as a matter of course, and when genetic manipulation and correction becomes possible then eugenics will have properly arrived.


 

Natural selection is obsolete and the compassionate society needs non-coercive eugenics

March 20, 2016

Natural selection is about being “good enough” and never about excellence. It has been sufficient to the purpose to cope with the slow change of prevailing environment. It has been effective but remarkably inefficient. But now that homo sapiens has developed to the point of influencing – even if not yet controlling – the prevailing environment, the trial and error process of “natural selection” can no longer cope with the pace of change. Compassionate societies take care of their physically unfit and natural selection is effectively bypassed.

Natural selection is about “good enough”, but artificial selection could be about excellence

Natural selection has no direction. In fact it is unintended selection. It just allows for the survival and the reproduction of the “just good enough” individuals (not of the best individuals). “Evolution” is then just the resulting changes in species, where some individuals have had the genetic variation (errors or abnormalities) to be able to survive in a changed environment (habitat and/or competing species). Paradoxically, species which display a wide genetic variation in individuals (large errors), have a greater chance of surviving change. Of course, many abnormal individuals fail to survive, which is the price paid for the survival of the species. In that sense, “natural selection” sacrifices individuals for the sake of the species. The unplanned, unintended “selection” occurs primarily by the deselection of the unfit individuals. You could say it was unethical, since the end (species survival), justifies the means (deselection of unfit individuals). There is no compassion for deselected individuals in natural selection.

Excellence of a particular attribute is never selected for. Survivors are those just good enough, to live long enough, to reproduce. Evolution by this “natural selection” clearly works, but it is not intentional, is not very efficient and can only cope with slow, small changes to the environment. Rapid or large changes cannot be matched by the available genetic variation. When the genetic variation (errors) among individuals does not throw up some which can survive some external change, species go extinct. It is the selection not by a pro-active choice but by whatever is left surviving after a multitude of trials of the errors.

We are getting to the point where we are beginning to be able to discern the genetic components which, partially or wholly, determine health, disease, intelligence and behaviour of the individual. We no longer allow the sick and unintelligent to be deselected. The “compassionate society” has effectively short-circuited the natural selection process which depended on the physically “unfit” dying off. However we take no similar actions about those who are mentally or behaviourally unfit. We have started changing the environment and we have cancelled the death of the physically unfit. But we still allow the mentally or behaviourally unfit to survive and reproduce.

It is time then to also take charge of genetic selection.

We see nothing wrong in genetic intervention in preventing debilitating disease. We even allow capital punishment (abortion) where the genetic fault in a foetus is considered very large. We practice artificial selection – of a sort – with IVF and surrogate motherhood. “Genetic engineering”, and “artificial selection” are nothing but eugenics where no coercion is involved. The Nazi search for “racial purity” involved massive coercion and tried to achieve the goal of a particular physical appearance and external attributes which defined their “master race”.

But without coercion, eugenics is unexceptionable as a method to seek genetic excellence.

Eugenics:The Problem Is Coercion

Razib Khan in The Unz Review

…… the issue with nics is simple: the problem is coercion, and the rest is commentary. I understand that the public is wary and skeptical of CRISPR technology and preimplanation genetic diagnosis. The problem is that the public is also suspicious of food which has DNA in it. Genes are not magic, but that is hard to convince the person on the street. Whereof one does not know, thereof one must be suspicious.

I believe for there to be a clear discussion, one needs to take coercion off the table, and abolish its specter by stating that it just isn’t an option. Then we can have a real dialogue that gets beyond the superficiality induced by the shadow of genocide. For example, consider sentences such as the following from the op-ed above “editing genes for frivolous purposes such as increasing intelligence.” There are many technical reasons that it may not be possible to increase intelligence in the near future through genetic engineering. But would increasing one’s intelligence be frivolous? I don’t think so. Whether you agree with this project or not, it is a serious matter, and gets to the heart of what we value as human beings (or at least some of us). But the specter of genocide casts a pall on exploring these nuanced questions, and that is because of the past record of coercion in eugenics.

Natural selection together with the compassionate society results in an increase in the proportion of “unfit” individuals (physical, mental or behavioural) in the population. But we take no measures to compensate for this by increasing the genetic excellence of succeeding generations.

Natural selection is just not good enough. It can no longer keep up with the pace of change and it is not compatible with a compassionate society. Non-coercive eugenics seeking excellence, not just to compensate for the increasing number of the unfit, but mainly to improve the human condition, is necessary.


 

Related:

Breeding for intelligence?

Is human intelligence declining?


 

Humans have neutralised natural selection and some alternative is needed

December 25, 2015

I was reading the Reuters report about the fatwas issued by ISIS which apparently justify the harvesting of organs of apostates and infidels – even from living individuals – for the sake of transplantation into “good muslims”. There has to be a genetic component to “barbarism”. Then I saw the report of the Pope’s speech at his midnight mass yesterday attacking consumerism and all “bad things”. That got me to thinking that all the pretty speeches made by politicians and Popes, exhorting “good behaviour”, are all meaningless if actions to ensure and sustain “good behaviour” are not also taken. If humans mean that “good behaviour” is something to aspire to and work for, then we must also take the measures available to us which can improve, whatever we may define as “good behaviour”, from one generation to the next. If behaviour is entirely due to nurture then it just requires proper teaching (though the line between teaching and brainwashing is quite thin). But it is not just nurture, of course. There is little doubt, in my mind that there is a significant genetic component to the behaviour that is expressed by an individual.

Certainly there is no doubt that genetics defines the envelope of behaviours that is open to any individual. Normally the envelope of enabled behaviour is so wide that it allows both “good” and “bad” behaviour. Thereafter it may well be nurture and the peculiarities of each individual which determines which particular behaviour will actually be expressed. But the artificial breeding of pets and livestock shows that key behavioural (as opposed to purely physical) characteristics (aggression, curiosity, propensity to cooperate, playfulness, sensitivity, …) can be selected for. Even “intelligence” has been selected for among dogs with some measure of success. It follows that in addition to physical characteristics, the envelope of possible behaviours that can be expressed by an individual can also be altered by genetics. It is highly likely then, that modifying genetics and shifting the envelope will allow certain behaviours to be completely eliminated from the realm of the possible.

Of course it is primarily natural selection which has produced the humans of today and it is this evolution which gives the cognitive behaviour which favours the “compassionate society”. But in this compassionate society, all those who would otherwise have been deselected by natural selection are now protected. The advances of medical science allied with the development of our ethical standards of behaviour (concepts of “human rights”), mean that the physically and mentally disadvantaged are protected and enabled to survive and reproduce. But one consequence is that even those exhibiting “bad behaviour” are also protected and survive to reproduce. The “welfare society” not only protects the weak and disadvantaged, it also ensures that their genetic weaknesses – assuming that they exist – are carried forward into succeeding generations. The “compassionate society” sees to it that even murderous psychopaths (whose behaviour may well be largely due to genetic “faults”), are imprisoned for relatively short times and then permitted (even encouraged) to pass on their faulty genes to succeeding generations.

Something is not right here. To be a compassionate society and protect the weak and disabled is wholly admirable, I think. But when the protection of the weak and disabled extends to the preferential propagation of the weakness or the disability, then the “compassion” also becomes counter-productive and eventually unsustainable. From the perspective of the future survival of the human race, the unnecessary perpetuation of weaknesses and disabilities becomes stupid and suicidal. It may be that the same genes which give some perceived weakness also give some critical survival attribute, in which case there is a trade-off to be made and a call to be taken.

I like the analogy of genetic propagation being seen as a chemical or nuclear reaction. Run-away reactions are avoided if moderation is available. I am coming to the view that some method of moderation of propagation is actually a necessity. Now that natural selection has been neutralised by human compassion and can no longer provide a moderating influence on genetic propagation, then some other form of genetic moderation is needed to avoid “run-away” genetic explosions. That then requires some form of “artificial” selection as the moderator. We may not yet know the specifics and the extent of the genetic components of intelligence or behaviour, but it is a simple conclusion that without moderation, we may well be ensuring the dumbing-down of the human race or ensuring the propagation and expansion of “bad behaviour”. It may not be causal, but there is a clear correlation showing higher fertility rates with lower “intelligence”. It is an arithmetic certainty that, if there is a causal relationship between intelligence and lower birth rates, then the intelligence of humans will decline.

There is nothing fundamentally incompatible between being a compassionate society which protects the weak and the disabled of the current generation, while still ensuring that genetic weaknesses are not carried forward into succeeding generations. In fact, it could even be considered unethical to knowingly allow such weaknesses to be carried forward, especially if we had the knowledge and the means to prevent it. But that, of course, would be considered eugenics.

Should Jihadi John have been killed at birth?

March 4, 2015

I was listening to a discussion this morning about who was to blame that Jihadi John (Mohammed Emwazi ) is what he is. The consensus seemed to be that it was not his parents, it was not the UK, it was not “the system”, it was not his schooling, it was not his childhood friends and it was not his University. Some blame clearly attached to the radical preachers he had been exposed to, but the primary blame and culpability lay with Jihadi John himself. In effect with his genes. His nature not his nurture.

(Of course I ignore all his companions and partners in cruelty and barbarity who think he is some kind of a hero destined for paradise).

And that brought to mind this story from last week about the quality control of Danish pigs:

TheLocal.seSwedish supermarket giant Ica has promised action after it emerged that hundreds of thousands of underweight piglets are killed every year in Denmark by banging their heads against the floor.

Hans Aarestrup, head of the Danish organization for swine producers, Danske Svineproducenter, told Swedish Radio’s news programme Ekot on Monday that about half a million piglets are killed every year for “humane” reasons.

“Instead of waiting for the weakest pigs to die, we kill them. The most humane way is to grab them by their hind legs and hitting them on the floor,” he said.

In the latest edition of Danske Svineproducenter’s magazine, they estimate that a farm with one thousand sows could save half a million Danish kroner a year if they put down all newborn pigs weighing less than a kilo, under the headline “Could it be a win-win situation to kill pigs at birth?”. …

We exercise quality control over all our manufactured goods. We exercise quality control over all domesticated pets and livestock. Even the Swedish indignation about the manner of the killing of the Danish piglets is about the method – not about the quality control. We cull wolves and deer and reindeer and even “threatened species” (lions, tigers, giraffes) in an effort to maintain “healthy genes”.  We even exercise some quality control over humans before birth when we abort severely disabled foetuses.

Suppose now that gene testing at birth (or before) could have revealed the monster that Jihadi John was going to become. The underlying assumption is that his genes alone – and not his nurture – were to blame. Suppose that gene testing had revealed that he was like an underweight Danish piglet. That there was “high” probability that his gene mix would lead him to be a monster. Should quality control have kicked in? Should he then have been “eliminated” at birth?

And who else would then fail to pass the quality control gate at birth and end up in the “reject” pile? There is a case for a new eugenics.

Another Australian couple abandon an unwanted surrogate twin behind

October 10, 2014

Barbarism takes many forms and it is not only the beheading of innocent victims. It is also an Australian couple who had commissioned a surrogate birth in India, which resulted in twins, and who then abandoned one because it was the wrong gender. It was not so long ago that we learned of the Australian couple (where the father was a convicted sex-offender) who abandoned a surrogate twin in Thailand because it had Down’s syndrome.

Having an abortion because of the coming child’s gender is not unknown in India but it is illegal and there are efforts underway to try and curb the practice. Abandoning girl children is also not unknown in many parts of the world. But commissioning a birth and then abandoning an unwanted twin  of the wrong “gender” sinks to the level of barbarism. It makes it no better that the Australian High Commission permitted the parents to apply for citizenship of only one of the twins – knowing full well that the other twin existed.

Both surrogacy and abortion prioritise the desires of the would-be or would-not-be parents and any thoughts about what is best for the child are entirely subordinated to the convenience of the parents.

Given a choice I wonder if the child /foetus to be aborted or to be “acquired” or abandoned would have chosen to be born – or not? Would any surrogate child choose to have that particular commissioning couple as parents? Or would any surrogate child choose to have two mothers or two fathers? But no child – after all – has any choice in its parents

The Hindu:

An Australian couple, who had biological twins from an Indian surrogate mother two years ago, abandoned one of the children and returned home with the other. The case came to light on Wednesday after the Australian family court chief Justice Diana Bryant announced that she was informed by an Australian High Commission official in New Delhi that the couple had left one child behind.

Justice Bryant has reported that the High Commission in New Delhi had delayed giving the parents a visa and tried to convince them to take both children home, but the parents did not relent. The couple’s decision to leave the child behind was based on their preference for a specific gender.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on behalf of Australian government on Thursday admitted that the couple had left the baby behind and since this case; the Indian government has tightened controls on commercial surrogacy arrangements in India.

When asked whether the High Commission could have prevented the parents from leaving the child behind, the spokesperson told The Hindu: “The parents in this case decided to apply for citizenship for only one of the twins. The involvement of the Australian High Commission in New Delhi was limited to assessing the application by the Australian couple for citizenship, and subsequently a passport, for the one child. The High Commission had no grounds to refuse the citizenship application and a passport for the one twin for whom application was made — the child met the criteria for citizenship and an Australian passport”.

It was pointed out that India became responsible for the welfare of the other child and adoption arrangements became a matter for its legal system. “The Australian government does not regulate overseas surrogacy arrangements; this is a matter for the countries in which these arrangements are made. Within Australia, the regulation of surrogacy is a matter for states and territories,” the spokesperson added.

It seems some political /financial pressure was brought to bear on the Australian High Commission to accept the abandonment of one twin. There are reports that the boy-twin was abandoned.

SMH:

Chief Justice Bryant said the Australian High Commission in New Delhi delayed giving the Australian parents a visa to try and convince them to take both children home. 

The ABC investigation suggested that pressure had been applied to the High Commission to grant the visas by a senior political figure. 

“Yes, there definitely was some pressure being placed to expedite the process to ensure they could return to Australia,” said Chief Justice Bryant.

Breeding for intelligence?

August 8, 2014

I take intelligence to be a capability – a potential. For every human it is – by my definition – genetic. Knowledge, not intelligence, is what is acquired. No matter how we define it, intelligence is a composite consequence of many genes. Epigenetics suggests that some of these genes may be switched on or not depending upon nurture but the existence of the relevant genes must surely be inherited (nature). The supremely idiotic goings-on in Iraq and Syria and Gaza and Africa and in all the instances of barbarism and mayhem around the world are all consequent to a lack of intelligence. They only convince me that human intelligence is not on the increase and- clearly – is not a trait that is being selected for.

But it should be.

Though intelligence does seem to be positively correlated with survival to reproduction age, it seems that it leads to a lower reproduction rate which more than negates the effects of the increased survival. Assuming that IQ is at least a partial measure of intelligence, fertility rate seems to reduce with increasing intelligence. If the lower reproductive rate is actually a consequence of the higher intelligence, then the human race – without intervention – is doomed to remaining where it is on the scale of intelligence and its proportion of idiots. The paradox is that there is nobody who does not want to be more intelligent – but it does not seem to be an evolutionary trait.

IQ and fertility: A cross-national study

Many studies have found a small to moderate negative correlation between IQ and fertility rates. However, these studies have been limited to the United States and some European countries. The present study was a between-nation study using national IQ scores and national fertility rates. There were strong negative correlations found between national IQ and three national indicators of fertility.

“Evolution” is actually just the result of the those who failed to reproduce. So while intelligence may be a survival trait it does not seem to result in increasing reproduction and is therefore not an evolutionary trait.

Demographically then the human race – without human intervention – is condemned to a  “dumbing down”.

Is human intelligence declining?

If “intelligence” is an inherited characteristic – as it seems at least partially to be –  then it is only a matter of simple arithmetic that unless the “more intelligent” reproduce at a higher rate than those of “less intelligence” then the “average intelligence” of the population will inevitably decrease.

There is little doubt that there is a connection between intelligence and brain size. But brain size alone is not a measure of intelligence. Intelligence was probably selected for (and therefore an evolutionary trait) during the period when the size of the human brain was increasing. Possibly at some point the collateral genetic cost of increasing intelligence led to a leveling off. There could well have been trade-offs during the period when – simultaneously – food supply was more secure, human brain size was increasing, intelligence increased, language was evolving and social interaction was increasing. Quite possibly there is an optimum combination of these (and possibly other) traits for any given set of prevailing environmental conditions.

Brain size does not seem to have increased for anatomically modern humans (AMH) and that means for around 100,000 years – perhaps 200,000. But during this time the physical differences between the various “races” of humans have evolved. Possibly these physical changes have occurred fastest during the last 20,000 years since the end of the last glacial period. But even coping with this massive change of environmental surroundings has not led to the further development of brain size and – apparently – intelligence. There is some suggestion that intelligence peaked with the hunter-gatherers. Intelligence has not been a decisive factor for survival and subsequent reproduction. Perhaps human intelligence cannot increase unless the conditions first exist which lead to an increase of brain size? Or perhaps brain size increases only as a consequence of intelligence being selected for?

The question is whether we should now explicitly be trying to increase the intelligence of humankind?

We are now within a paradigm where “natural selection” by the prevailing environment has been decoupled from survival and subsequent reproduction. Natural selection is apparently obsolete and of no great value for the further development of humankind.  Social factors rather than the surrounding environment control fertility. The welfare state has seen to it that physical disabilities after birth generally do not act as a de-selector. “Artificial selection” does not yet dominate but is of increasing importance in determining who survives to subsequently reproduce. Abortion (25 -30% of all conceptions) de-selects for some serious, detectable, physical disabilities but is also often for the social convenience of the mother.  Surrogacy and IVF are driven by social needs and are providing the possibility of selecting for specific characteristics – though the “selection” is still largely hit-and-miss. I am not sure that IQ is necessarily the best measure of intelligence, but it seems ridiculous that where we do use “artificial selection”, intelligence is not also a criterion for selection.

Humans have learned to overcome the limitations of the surrounding “natural” environment. We cannot predict – let alone control – earthquakes and volcanoes, but we do build houses which make the vagaries of most weather irrelevant. We breed other species to suit our needs. We overturn the natural order of things by protecting the weak and healing the sick and caring for the old.  Modern living is fundamentally “unnatural” in that it is dominated by human intervention to mitigate “natural” effects. The many deficiencies we still have – poverty and gratuitous violence and famine and rape and genocide and intolerance and religious insanities – can all be put down to insufficiency of intelligence.

There is nothing wrong with eugenics. It is the methods by which it is applied which can be ethical or unethical.It is inevitable that we try and achieve a growth of intelligence. And perhaps it has already started – in China.

iO9: Chinese parents will be able to engage in what’s called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in order to select the most “intelligent” babies. It’s not genetic engineering — instead, doctors look at the DNA of several zygotes and choose the most promising one for implantation. Put this reproductive technology in the hands of enough parents, and the next generation of Chinese citizens could start to exhibit rates of intelligence five to 15 IQ points higher than what’s typically seen today.

China passed its so-called “Eugenics Law” in 1994, what it formally calls the “Maternal and Infant Health Care Law”:

This law regulates support for maternal and child health and also requires physicians to recommend a postponement of marriage if either member of a couple has an infectious, contagious disease or an active mental disorder. If one member of a couple has a serious hereditary disease, the couple may only marry if they agree to use longterm contraception or to undergo sterilization. If prenatal tests reveal that a fetus has a serious hereditary disease or serious deformity, the physician must advise the pregnant woman to have an abortion, and the law states that the pregnant woman “should” follow this recommendation.

The introduction of novel biotechnologies could allow the communist government to take its eugenic-like policies to the next level (though it’s not clear at this time if China will insist that PGD be enforced in this way). But rather than just screen for a “serious deformity,” the Chinese may eventually designate any kind of “deleterious” trait — like low IQ — as something that can and should be eliminated from the gene pool (with “low” IQ being a potentially normative and scalable characteristic).

Put that together with the Chinese Genetic Program:

Vice: At BGI Shenzhen, scientists have collected DNA samples from 2,000 of the world’s smartest people and are sequencing their entire genomes in an attempt to identify the alleles which determine human intelligence. Apparently they’re not far from finding them, and when they do, embryo screening will allow parents to pick their brightest zygote and potentially bump up every generation’s intelligence by five to 15 IQ points. 

Related: On birth rates, abortions and “eugenics by default”

Eugenics by surrogacy – Australian style

August 1, 2014

It was an Australian couple in this case but of course there are many who use surrogacy in Thailand and other poor countries to carry out procedures they cannot in their own countries. In nearly all cases of surrogacy the mother is required to abort if a serious medical problem is detected.

In the Sydney Morning Herald:

Gammy, a six-month-old baby abandoned by his Australian parents, could die because his impoverished Thai surrogate mother cannot pay for medical treatment for his congenital heart condition.

The child will never know his twin sister, who was born healthy with him in a Bangkok hospital and has been taken away by their parents, who are living anonymously in Australia.

The story of how 21-year-old Pattharamon Janbua was cheated by a surrogacy agent in Bangkok and left to try to save the life of her critically unwell baby has emerged as Thai authorities move to crack down on IVF clinics, …… 

Ms Pattharamon says three months after a doctor injected the Australian woman’s fertilised egg into her uterus, she discovered she was having twins. The agent promised her an additional $1673 to have the second baby.

The couple asked the Thai mother to abort the Downs syndrome twin which she was not prepared to do.

Four months into the pregnancy, doctors doing routine checks discovered one of the babies had Down syndrome. They told the Australian parents, who said they did not want to take the boy, according to a source familiar with the case.  

“They told me to have an abortion but I didn’t agree because I am afraid of sin,” Ms Pattharamon says, referring to her Buddhist beliefs. 

This couple probably should be barred from being parents but their genes are being carried forward.

How many surrogate conceptions are aborted is not known but they happen –  it is thought – mainly because a medical defect in the fetus has been detected.  However, it is known that many surrogate clinics do select for the sex of the child and babies of the undesired gender are also aborted. Many of the Thai surrogacies for Australians are for same-sex couples. I don’t believe that any child – if given and capable of an informed choice – would prefer to do without a father or a mother.

Currently around 25-30% of all “normal “human conceptions are aborted. But most of these are abortions for convenience rather than for defects in the fetus. If being a reluctant mother has a genetic component then every abortion is also a genetic deselection of reluctant mothers.

Related: On birth rates, abortions and “eugenics by default”

Eugenics by default: Abortion is of greater significance now than infant mortality ever was

March 6, 2014

We determine the demographic future – almost unthinkingly – by the patterns of child-bearing and child-rearing that we practise today. Population and its composition for the next 100 years or so has already been determined. The Chinese population has started declining and will continue to do so till at least 2100. The Indian population will reach its peak around 2050 and will then decline. The “aging” of populations and the increase of longevity has also been fixed. Demographic “robustness” is critically dependent on maintaining the ratio of the “working” population to the “supported” population (the young and the old). The US is maintaining its demographic sustainability by means of immigration in the face of declining fertility rates. Some countries in Europe are doing the same. Many do not since maintaining  some form of “racial purity” is an undercurrent in many societies and fuels the resistance to immigration – even with dangerous declines in fertility rates. Japan is facing an aging crisis as immigration is resisted. The numbers are inexorable.

Fitness to survive after birth is no longer of significance in the survival stakes. All around the world societies see to it that those with disabilities – once born – are protected. The further evolution of humans will now increasingly be the result of

  1. artificial selection for particular genetic traits, and
  2. the deselection of individuals who have been conceived but are not allowed to be born or to survive and reproduce.

It is my contention that we are in fact – directly and indirectly –  exercising an increasing amount of genetic control in the selection and deselection of our offspring. So much so that we already have “eugenics by default” being applied to a significant degree in the children being born today.

The numbers tell the tale.

One of the key measures of the advances of medical science has been the drastic reduction of infant mortality rates (defined here as deaths after birth but before the age of one year). In the 16th and 17th century this was about 30% of all births (an estimate based on a dearth of data). Since 1950 this rate has dropped from about 15% of all births to around 4% today. The variation is still very high with the current rate being as high as 12% in Afghanistan and 11% in Niger but less than 0.2% in Monaco. By 2050, as development in Africa proceeds, this global rate is expected to have dropped to about 2% (20 per 1000 live births).

It is more difficult to define miscarriages. After fertilisation of an egg it seems that perhaps 50 – 70% fail to attach themselves to the uterus wall and these would not even be considered – or even show up – as a pregnancy. I take such “miscarriages” to be failures of conception. Taking attachment to the uterine wall and the establishment of a fetal heartbeat as being a successful conception, around 10% still result in a miscarriage today.

In 2012 about 135 million babies were born (7 billion population and crude birth rate of 19.15 per 1000 of total population). Worldwide induced abortions numbered about 45 million (estimate). One third of all successful conceptions were not allowed to reach birth.

Economist:  It fell precipitously in the 1990s, but recently the rate has not budged, barely dipping from 29 abortions per 1,000 women (aged 15 to 44) in 2003 to 28 abortions per 1,000 women in 2008. Eastern Europe has the highest abortion rate in the world, at 43 per 1,000. The geography of abortions has also shifted. In 2008, 86% of abortions were in the developing world, up from 78% in 1995.

(Note! the number per 1000 women of child bearing age is different to the number per 1000 live births).

The current status then is:

  • Of 1000 successful conceptions (fetal heartbeat established)
  • less than 20 are by IVF
  • 100 are miscarried before birth
  • 330 are aborted before birth
  • 570 live births result
  • 22 do not survive beyond one year
  • 548 survive beyond 12 months
  • 3 do not survive beyond 5 years
  • About 540 – 545 live to child bearing age

Four hundred years ago miscarriage rates (after successful conception) were probably around 20% of live births and infant mortality rates were about 30%, such that only 50% of all successful conceptions led to children surviving up to their first birthdays.

The picture today is not so different. About 55% of all successful conceptions lead to children surviving beyond one year.

Without moralising about abortion – which I am not qualified to do – as far as the numbers are concerned, infant mortality of 400 years ago has effectively been replaced by abortion today. Deselection which took place in the first year after birth has been shifted to the period after conception but before birth. From a genetic perspective and since there is an element of “selection” in every abortion, abortions today are of greater evolutionary and demographic significance than infant mortality ever was.

Modern eugenics in all but name: Sex selection by abortion is legal in the UK

October 7, 2013

Eugenics is here even if nobody wants to acknowledge it for fear of being equated with the Nazis. Artificial selection and deselection rather than natural selection will eventually come to dominate the future evolution of humans. In India the abortion of female foetuses is sometimes an extension of female infanticide caused by the fear of the cost of female children and by the social status accorded by a male child. Sex selection by deselecting foetuses of unwanted genders is not just a feature of the developing world. Even in the UK, sex selection by abortion is legal.

The Telegraph:

Doctors have been informed that they can carry out sex-selective abortions in certain circumstances, the Director of Public Prosecutions has disclosed.

The British Medical Association (BMA) updated its guidance in the wake of an investigation by the Telegraph to advise doctors that “there may be circumstances, in which termination of pregnancy on grounds of fetal sex would be lawful”.

The disclosure is expected to spark fury among dozens of MPs who have criticised the medical establishment for seeking to redefine abortion laws.

Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, today publishes a detailed memorandum explaining the controversial decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute two doctors who agreed to arrange illegal abortions based on the sex of an unborn baby.

Mr Starmer warns that current guidance for doctors needs to be urgently updated amid widespread concern over practices in clinics which do not appear to fall foul of the letter of the law.

The two doctors at the centre of the controversy were exposed by the Telegraph after being secretly filmed offering to abort baby girls, even though this is widely thought to be illegal.

The CPS decided it would not be in “the public interest” to prosecute the two doctors.

It has today emerged that in guidance published after The Daily Telegraph carried out the investigation, the BMA issued guidance for doctors.

It stated: “It is normally unethical to terminate a pregnancy on the grounds of fetal sex alone.”

However, it then continues: “The pregnant woman’s views about the effect of the sex of the fetus on her situation and on her existing children should nevertheless be carefully considered.”

“In some circumstances doctors may come to the conclusion that the effects are so severe as to provide legal and ethical justification for a termination,” concludes the guidance.

Letter from DPP

“…… The law does not, in terms, expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions; rather it prohibits any abortion carried out without two medical practitioners having formed a view, in good faith, that the health risks of continuing with a pregnancy outweigh those of termination. …..

….. The discretion afforded to doctors under the current law in assessing the risk to the mental or physical health of a patient is wide and, having consulted an experienced consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, it appears that there is no generally accepted approach among the medical profession.”


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