A science that is concerned with the improvement of hereditary characteristics of a race or breed. In some instances, as in Nazi Germany, eugenics has been taken to extremes, serving as the rationale for genocide and for breeding a so-called master race. In recent times, the term has been somewhat loosely applied to the decisions parents may make as the result of increases in REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGIES.
Genetic testing of the fetus helps a woman or enables a couple to know whether or not a child will have a genetic defect. If the fetus carries a condition that is unacceptable to the parent(s), there may be an election to abort it.
It is also possible to test for nondisabling conditions, such as the sex of a child. In some countries, it is common for a couple who wants a boy and learns the woman is pregnant with a girl to abort a healthy female.
Advocates of eugenics and genetic testing insist that much agony can be avoided by mothers and fathers knowing what they're up against. Advocates argue that if parents are sure they cannot possibly cope with a severely deformed or mentally deficient child, abortion would be more humane for all concerned. Others argue that testing actually prevents some abortions by reassuring prospective parents that the fetus is healthy. (See also BIOETHICS.)
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©2000 by Christine Adamec and William Pierce, Ph.D. Reprinted from The Encyclopedia of Adoption, 2nd Edition (2nd Edition) with permission of Facts On File, Inc.
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