a modest proposal [eugenics]

Posted in this is fucking america! by nerdlette on 21 June 2008

Despite the sunny future projected by the legalization of gay marriage in California, a new dark cloud hovers on the horizon. Public acceptance of homosexuality is thankfully on the rise. Due in no small part to the perception that queer sexuality is biologically determined. (a force of nature not nurture)

However researches have been unable to isolate a “gay gene” and increasingly scientists believe that the homosexuality is not encoded in DNA but a product of hormonal levels during infant gestation.

On a surface level this difference seems innocuous–sexuality still not the “fault” of the queer person. Nevertheless, homosexuality is not the only characteristic that scientists believe may result from hormonal levels in utero. A leading crop of autism research is begining to trace links between the condition and prenatal testosterone levels.

Slate presents the horrifying proposition that in seeking treatment/prevention for other diseases, technology may allow parents to reverse or prevent homosexuality in their children. Despite the seemingly obvious allusions to “playing God”, religious groups have already begun to speak out in favor “curing” gays in utero.

Eugenics: no longer the pursuit of a pure race, but a pure sexuality?

Can research into any kind of intervention on fetal development be justified–even if the goal is to prevent the onset of a crippling disease? If even detection is possible, how would parents respond to the choice between aborting a fetus and producing a gay child?

Following this idea, I found myself wondering if treatments for any kind of prenatal developmental disorder are justified. In its most severe expression, autism seems sufficiently crippling to warrant some sort of intervention. But how does one determine at what line “autism” lies? Does an individual with Asperbergers or other milder expressions of autism need treatment? Some of humanities greatest thinkers–from Bill Gates to Issac Newton–are thought to have autistic proclivities. Do we risk depriving our society of its greatest minds? At what point are we simply forcing a convention on personality

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