Genetics Society Offers Thoughts for Future

Eugenics comes in many guises, from the fetal hatcheries of Aldous Huxley's 1931 vision of a brave new world, to films such as Gattaca, where parents pick and choose their future offspring's inherited traits. In the real world, eugenics is associated with the horrors of Nazi Germany, and more subtly with certain medical tests widely used in many nations today. The blurring of the lines between eugenics and genetic research has prompted the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) to release a

Ricki Lewis
Mar 14, 1999

Eugenics comes in many guises, from the fetal hatcheries of Aldous Huxley's 1931 vision of a brave new world, to films such as Gattaca, where parents pick and choose their future offspring's inherited traits. In the real world, eugenics is associated with the horrors of Nazi Germany, and more subtly with certain medical tests widely used in many nations today. The blurring of the lines between eugenics and genetic research has prompted the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) to release a statement, "Eugenics and the Misuse of Genetic Information to Restrict Reproductive Freedom."1 The paper reviews the roots of eugenics, but it also offers a look ahead.

"What we are really saying is that we are entering an era when an overwhelming amount of information is coming, and on occasion a third party could misuse genetic information," says Philip R. Reilly, executive director of the...