See attached – ethical pros on eugenics  1 Eugenics and Social Justice Yaneisy Yanez West Coast University PHIL 434: Medical

See attached – ethical pros on eugenics 


Eugenics and Social Justice

Yaneisy Yanez

West Coast University

PHIL 434: Medical Ethics and Issues



Eugenics and Social Justice

Technical Aspects

Eugenics is a controversial idea of improving the human population by manipulating reproduction. It aimed to increase the prevalence of “desirable” traits and decrease “undesirable” ones. The practice started with selective breeding, forced sterilizations (through surgical procedures like hysterectomies and orchiectomy), and limited migration. However, Eugenics has evolved from these crude techniques to sophisticated genetic tools like CRISPR-Cas9. CRISPR-Cas9 is a tool for editing genes that allows for precise modifications in an organism’s DNA. There is also “Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis” that allows people undergoing In-vitro fertilization (IVF) to choose embryos that are free of certain genetic characteristics, including diseases. All these practices are evolving over time, and they require keen attention from legal authorities and all other concerned parties.

Public Policy

Currently, there are no explicit federal laws permitting Eugenics. Notably, The House of Representatives passed a resolution to condemn recent cases of forced sterilization at the Irwin County Detention Center
(Representative Sylvia Garcia, 2020). However, there are about 31 states in the USA with laws that allow forced sterilization (NWLC, 2022). Also, there is no legal framework for using “Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis” in the USA (Ginoza & Isasi, 2019). Moreover, there is no outright prohibition of genetic editing technologies in the USA, but Congress has withheld the ban on federal funding of clinical trials of genetic editing (Gabel & Moreno, 2019). Nevertheless, there are ongoing debates on genetic modulations in human reproduction.

Ethical Theories

The opposition to Eugenics has strong moral grounds on Kantian Ethics and “Social Contract Theory.” Kantian ethics emphasizes the need to sacredly treat humans and respect their autonomy (Wilson, 2023). Some eugenic practices, like coerced sterilization, violate the Kantian principle of autonomy. Similarly, “The Social Contract Theory” championed by John Locke and others clashes with eugenic ideologies. For instance, the potential of discrimination in eugenic practices violated the principle of fairness in the theory (Wilson, 2023). Also, eugenics judges people based on their biological traits rather than their values as humans. This is against the fundamentals of “The Social Contract Theory”.

However, Act Utilitarianism, championed by Jeremy Bentham, offers a counterpoint for the above theories opposing Eugenics. The counterargument arises from the central principle of act utilitarianism, which is optimizing what is deemed good and minimizing whatever is deemed negative to the existence of society. For instance, act utilitarians argue that Eugenics would eliminate debilitating human illnesses and this would minimize human suffering (Maftei & Dănilă, 2022).

Arguments For and Against Eugenic Practices

Other than the umbrella arguments against and for Eugenics, there are also debates surrounding each particular practice in Eugenics. For instance, the practice of “Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PDA)” has attracted both supportive and opposing arguments. Supporters argue that the practice helps prevent serious genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis (Veit et al., 2021). This is in alignment with the ethical principle of beneficence. Moreover, they argue that the practice allows parents to make informed choices about their family planning. On the other hand, critics maintain that there is a potential for a slippery slope toward designer babies and selecting for non-medical traits. They add that this could worsen social inequalities if access is limited (Dev, 2021). This would conflict with the ethical principle of justice if the practices create an unfair playing ground for people by giving some advantages over the rest. Nevertheless, the practice is arguably based on the principle of autonomy, which allows parents to make preferred reproductive choices.

Another practice in Eugenics is gene editing. Enthusiasts suggest that the practice will reduce or even eradicate unwanted biological human characteristics and promote the desired ones in the population. For instance, they argue that this could aid in modifying human genes so that they can be resistant to conditions like cancer (Veit et al., 2021). They also say this could aid in correcting genetic mutations that result in disabilities such as deafness and blindness. This would violate the ethical principle of maleficence because of the resultant harm. On the contrary, opposers claim that gene editing has the potential for unforeseen adverse outcomes that could produce worse undesirable characteristics. Also, they maintain that this can result in the reproduction of “designer babies” with predetermined traits to outdo an average human in intelligence and other characteristics (Dev, 2021). This would worsen social inequalities and further stratify the society, which is against the ethical principle of justice.

Public Policy and Eugenics

Currently, there is no explicit policy supporting eugenic practices in the USA. However, all citizens in the USA have the right to access genetic testing and counseling for disease prevention and informed reproductive choices (CDC, 2022). This is arguably a light form of Eugenics with less ethical implications.

Similarly, the US lacks a single comprehensive law specifically opposing Eugenics (Gabel & Moreno, 2019). This calls for the urgent establishment of regulations to govern eugenic-oriented technologies, especially emerging ones. However, various federal policies and regulations work together to prevent its resurgence. For instance, the upholding of the ban on funding of gene editing shows a resolve to control Eugenics.


To sum up, Eugenics is a complex mix of ethics, science, and public policy. This paper has argued against some practices of Eugenics by emphasizing the values of human dignity and social equity. Whereas the act utilitarian arguments may advocate for its benefits, it is essential to consider the negative implications of such practices. Therefore, as we navigate the future of eugenics-related policies and technologies, it is essential to prioritize the rights and dignity of individuals.


CDC. (2022, June 24).
Genetic counseling. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dev, S. I. (2021). Is it morally justified to create disabled designer babies?
Jindal Global Law Review.

Gabel, I., & Moreno, J. (2019). Genome Editing, Ethics, and Politics.
AMA Journal of Ethics,
21(12), E1105-1110.

Ginoza, M. E. C., & Isasi, R. (2019). Regulating Preimplantation Genetic Testing across the World: A Comparison of International Policy and Ethical Perspectives.
Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine,
10(5), a036681.

Maftei, A., & Dănilă, O. (2022). The good, the bad, and the utilitarian: Attitudes towards genetic testing and implications for disability.
Current Psychology,

NWLC. (2022, January 24).
Forced Sterilization of Disabled People in the United States. National Women’s Law Center.

Representative Sylvia Garcia. (2020, October 2).
House Passes Resolution Condemning Unwanted, Unnecessary Medical Procedures Performed On Immigrant Women Without Their Consent at the Irwin County Detention Center | Representative Sylvia Garcia. Https://

Veit, W., Anomaly, J., Agar, N., Singer, P., Fleischman, D. S., & Minerva, F. (2021). Can “eugenics” be defended?.
Monash Bioethics Review,

Wilson, R. A. (2023). Philosophical Silences: Race, Gender, Disability, and Philosophical Practice.
Journal of Philosophy of Education (Print).

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