A major part of the eugenics agenda has always been the sterilisation of those considered to be unfit for procreating. To weed out undesirables and to create a perfect race, the selection of some for sterilisation – and worse – has always been occurring.
It even occurred in the US and elsewhere for some decades in the first half of the twentieth century. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was one of the most infamous proponents of eugenics during this time. But when the ultimate eugenics experiment occurred – the Final Solution of the Nazis – it got a pretty bad name, and went quiet. But that does not mean we are through with eugenics.
It continues to raise its ugly head in civilised Western societies, but in slightly more subtle forms than witnessed in Nazi Germany. Indeed, for at least 150 years we have lived with the eugenics menace hovering over us. And it looks like it will be around for some time to come.
The term itself of course was coined by Francis Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin, in 1883. The term means ‘good birth’ and it has to do with selective breeding and tinkering with hereditary in order to ‘improve’ the human race. Weeding out undesirable life is a big part of this. Recall the full title of Darwin’s famous 1859 volume: The Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
Advocates for improving the human race were many, and plenty of schemes were implemented to do just that. Hitler of course famously sought to purge the human race of unfit elements and create a super race of blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryans. After exterminating six million Jews and unleashing the Second World War on us, we all had hoped that this was the end of eugenics.
But cases of it keep occurring, and vigilance is always required. It seems it is even still being considered here in Australia at this point in time. The West Australian government has released a draft bill on mental health, and there are some very ominous and frightening recommendations found therein.
The 271 page report has been open for public discussion. It is hoped that the public will indeed be aware of this bill, and will indeed discuss it. Major concerns are found on pages 135-136 where we read about recommendations for the sterilisation of children, without the need of parental consent. The relevant section says this:
“209. Requirements for sterilisation procedure
A person must not perform a sterilisation procedure on a person who has a mental illness unless —
(a) if the person is a child who does not have sufficient maturity or understanding to make reasonable decisions about matters relating to himself or herself — the Family Court has authorised the sterilisation procedure to be performed; or
(b) if the person —
(i) Is a child who has sufficient maturity and understanding to make reasonable decisions about matters relating to himself or herself; or
(ii) has reached 18 years of age and has the capacity required by section 12 to give informed consent to the sterilisation procedure being performed, the person has given informed consent to it being performed; or
(c) if the person has reached 18 years of age but does not have the capacity required by section 12 to give informed consent to the sterilisation procedure being performed — the person’s enduring guardian or guardian has given consent in accordance with the Guardianship Act Part 5 Division 3 to it being performed.
Penalty: imprisonment for 5 years.
210. Chief Psychiatrist and Mentally Impaired Accused Review Board: report
As soon as practicable after a sterilisation procedure is performed on a person who has a mental illness, the treating psychiatrist must report to —
(a) the Chief Psychiatrist; and
(b) if the person is a mentally impaired accused, the Mentally Impaired Accused Review Board, that the procedure was performed.”
There are a number of other features of this bill which are also a cause for concern, including such things as:
-12 year olds being able to consent to psychosurgery – pp 108, 109, 110, 197,198, 199, 213;
-12 year olds being able to consent to electroshock (ECT) – pp 100, 101, 103, 104, 194, 105;
-The restraint and seclusion of children – pp 122, 121, 113, 246;
-The involuntary commitment of children – pp 21, 22, 35, 19, 107, 36, 53, 54, 183 -185, 190, 191, 213, 214,18, 46, 47, 48, 65, 66, 70, 73, 75-77.
Of course all governments must regulate mental health issues at least to some extent, and there may be much in this bill which is not of concern, or in fact helpful. But some of these issues seem to be of genuine concern. Legislators, doctors and scientists all have a role to play here, but if allowed to go unchecked, then these groups can also cause great damage.
Unnecessary alarmism must be avoided here, but so too must be a lack of awareness and a lack of concern. Most tyrannies begin in small steps. And when the scientist or the doctor starts to get draconian powers, then we all must be worried.
A century ago G.K. Chesterton wrote a prophetic work entitled Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized State. In it he said: “The thing that really is trying to tyrannize through government is Science. The thing that really does use the secular arm is Science. And the creed that really is levying tithes and capturing schools, the creed that really is enforced by fine and imprisonment, the creed that really is proclaimed not in sermons but in statues, and spread not by pilgrims but by policemen—that creed is the great but disputed system of thought which began with Evolution and has ended in Eugenics. Materialism is really our established Church; for the government will really help it to persecute its heretics…I am not frightened of the word ‘persecution’…It is a term of legal fact. If it means the imposition by the police of a widely disputed theory, incapable of final proof—then our priests are not now persecuting, but our doctors are.”
Or as C. S. Lewis put it in The Problem of Pain: “Once the old Christian idea of a total difference in kind between man and beast has been abandoned, then no argument for experiments on animals can be found which is not also an argument for experiments on inferior men. If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reasons.”
Or children for that matter.
The good news is people are now being made aware of this bill. The bad news is that it may now be too late – at least to comment – the deadline for feedback was March 9, 2012! But still, if you live in WA I suggest you contact your local MP about this and express your concerns. What may seem like rather innocuous proposals may well be the beginning of a new batch of eugenics.
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You’re currently reading “Australian Eugenics?”, an entry on CultureWatch
- 11.3.12 / 11pm
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