China- eugenics

Jim Cummins cummins at
Tue Feb 1 02:03:53 EST 1994

According to recent reports (eg Nature, January 6) China has announced
a law to eliminate "inferior births" by forbidding certain groups from
reproducing.  This negative eugenics approach, while I guess is
understandable in principle given China's crushing population problem,
poses great risks for human rights.  People with " hereditary disease",
 along with "mental illness" and even  hepatitis, will be forbidden to
marry and may well be subjected to forced abortion if they try to
reproduce .  There seems little doubt that this will be used as a
political means of controlling minorities: the Minister of Public
Health, Chen Minzhang indicated that "inferior births" are common in
ethnic minorities, the frontier and economically poor areas. 

 i believe there should be public condemnation of this retrogressive
step.  We know far too little about the genetic control of "mental
illness", for example,  to be attempting to control it. As the
editorial in Nature says, "The experience of the former Soviet Union is
that the practise of psychiatry can easily become an extension of the
penal system, a means of expressing social (or at least official)
disapproval.  It will be remarkable if China remains perpetually free
from the temptation  to follwo suit (even if the chances of finding a
gene for political dissent are slim)."  Add  your voice to the protest
now, while it's still possible to influence the introduction of this

Jim Cummins                   
School of Veterinary Studies
Murdoch University
Western Australia 6150  Tel +61-9-360 2668 Fax +61-9-310 4144
"An inordinate fondness for Beetles"

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