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, 7 (3), 205-14

Eugenics and Its Relevance to Contemporary Health Care


Eugenics and Its Relevance to Contemporary Health Care

R Iredale. Nurs Ethics.


Recently there has been a revival of interest in the theory and practice of eugenics by both academics and lay people. The ongoing revolution in biology and the increasing ability to acquire genetic information has led to concerns about genetics being used again for sinister eugenic ends. Although the goals behind traditional eugenics--the minimization of disease and the improvement of human health--remain unchanged, the means by which these goals should be achieved have altered significantly. However, in debates about the impact of human genetic research, eugenics is sometimes viewed as a purely historical phenomenon and its relevance to the current situation is minimized. This article outlines the history of the eugenics movement, describes some eugenic practices, and explores why an appreciation of these historical debates is important for nurses.

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