Should You Be Allowed to Gene Edit Your Kids?: New at Reason

State mandated eugenics is always evil.



In the old days, eugenicists justified restrictions on reproduction by arguing that we need to weed out people with unhealthy traits and thus protect the greater health of society. In 1927, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court infamously ruled in Buck v. Bell that the state of Virginia could force a poor woman to be sterilized. In his decision, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes declared: "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind."

This eugenic reasoning has been turned on its head in the early 21st century. Contemporary eugenicists want to use government power to prevent people from using modern biotech methods to help them to bear children who are unburdened of inherited disease and debility. This modern prohibition is also justified on the grounds that it is needed to protect the greater health of society. How horribly ironic!