Eugenics Rears Its Ugly Head, Again

When you deliver your body to the State, expect the State to start:

  1. Making you do things
  2. Preventing you from doing things

In other words, if you hand your body over to someone else, that someone else will claim the right to control it.

Today I was rudely reminded that eugenics, one of the nasty platforms of famous fascist/socialist states like Nazi Germany, is alive and well (h/t Elizebeth). Eugenics posits that one can (must) improve the species by allowing some people to have children, and disallowing others. In our modern time, it has also become more selective: couples can choose to have children with certain genetic makeups and not others. All in the name of having the ‘best’ child, who will become the ‘best’ kind of citizen and human, and that these ‘best’ people are superior in general to naturally-born, unselected people.

In this current example, The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE)), has recommended practitioners or governments which follow the Society’s recommendations, void the Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for certain classes of people, namely (bolding mine):

1) In view of the risks for the future child, fertility doctors should refuse treatment to women used to more than moderate drinking and who are not willing or able to minimize their alcohol consumption.

2) Treating women with severe or morbid obesity required special justification. The available data suggested that weight loss would incur in a positive reproductive effect, although more data was needed to establish whether assisted reproduction should be made conditional upon prior life-style changes for obese and smoking females.

3) Assisted reproduction should only be conditional upon life style changes, if there was strong evidence that without behavioural modifications there was a risk of serious harm to the child or that the treatment became disproportional in terms of cost-effectiveness or obstetric risks.

4) When making assisted reproduction conditional upon life style modifications, fertility doctors should help patients to achieve the necessary results.

5) More data on obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption as well as other life style factors were necessary to assess reproductive effects. Fertility doctors should continue research in this area.

Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (bolding mine):

Article 16
  1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

It is my firm belief that being fat is intertwined with racial status, since fat is preponderantly genetic. Therefore, discriminating against fat people is discriminating against them based on their racial status. Again, fat is not a behavior. Fat is not a disease. Fat is a body type, which is preponderantly genetic.

To understand how ridiculous this is, just consider this one fact: the fear of diabetes is one of the largest health ‘risks’ that anti-obesity crusaders tout when trying to get you into a panicked enough state to agree to their fascist ultimatums. And having diabetes in your immediate family is by far the largest risk factor for having diabetes yourself. Yet, women who already have diabetes — or heart disease, or a history of cancer, or any of the other major ills thrown at the doorstep of fatness — aren’t disallowed from getting reproductive help in the article being discussed here.

This isn’t about the future health of the child (a concept right out of eugenics, by the way), or whatever malarkey they’re concocting to get you to go along with their crusade. Or else women with diseases shown to be genetic wouldn’t be allowed to get reproductive help. No, this is a direct attempt to make formal the second-class status of unpopular groups of people.

As a final note, not only should it be a basic human right for a woman to reproduce if she so chooses. It should also be a basic human right to contract with another individual for services that do not violate other basic human rights. In other words, if there’s a doctor willing to contract with you for IVF services, then you have the right to proceed.


3 comments on “Eugenics Rears Its Ugly Head, Again

  1. Heidi says:

    Okay, so I don’t disagree that not permitting IVF to obese women is abhorrent.

    What I don’t get is how you’re relating this to the State. If you read the ESHRE site, they would appear to be a membership-based medical organization like any number of organizations for practitioners & health providers interested in a specific area of medicine (in this case reproductive medicine). On their website they state: “The idea to create the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology was first conceived in Helsinki, where Professor R.G. Edwards, from Cambridge University, and Dr. J. Cohen, from Paris, consulted their colleagues about the need to convene and discuss the possible foundation of a society that would stimulate the study and research in the field of reproductive medicine and science. Both the idea to establish such a society and the outcome of their meetings proved to be successful in many ways.”


    They are not part of the EU government’s infrastructure or any specific country’s governmental infrastructure, so far as I can tell. Whether or not governments with nationalized healthcare choose to take this advice is another matter entirely. Saying that “Europe (specifically ESHRE), has decided” is like saying “The United States (specifically the American Academy of Pediatrics), has decided…”

    The AAP may say that all children should be breastfed until the age of six months. It does not follow that there is any legal action from the United States government compelling mothers to breastfeed until six months.

    I have all kinds of issues with the recommendation but I think you’re wildly extrapolating about its universality in political practice, based solely on this article.

    Incidentally, chances are that even in most countries with nationalized healthcare, were they to take this entirely separate organization’s recommendation regarding IVF, you could still find private providers to provide IVF at a price. The difference is that in the UK, although I think the obesity regulations that the NHS has instituted are absolute shite (and I’d fight them tooth and nail if I lived there and needed IVF), because of the NHS many women can get IVF for free. In the US, none get it for free, so far as I’m aware.

  2. bigliberty says:

    Hi Heidi,

    Yes, using “Europe” specifically was off the mark, and I’ll correct it.

    For the rest of it, I suppose the confusion lies in that this post is really two posts in one: the evidence of a group that was convened to be a voice of a particular region, Europe in this instance, on a particular subject, reproduction and embryology in this instance; and the potential for this evidence to be taken as gospel by countries in the region which have socialized plans which are at the least mostly compulsory (in that they undermine the market, forcing most people into the plan), and the most formally compulsory (in that it is vastly cost-prohibitive to have a private plan or take advantage of private practitioners who are unassociated with the state plan).

    Since this is a phenomenon (bodies such as this producing evidence and making recommendations, and countries represented by the body incorporating the recommendations into their socialized plans) which has happened before, and will happen again, I simply made the jump to assume the recommendations of this particular body would likely be incorporated into one of the socialized, compulsory plans in the region.

    Case in point, a country which already practices voiding Article 16 of the Universal Declaration: What’s the BMI cutoff for IVF in the NHS plan, 35? 40? I forget.

    Then the rest follows.

    Oh, and as for your last comment — nothing is free. What people gain in “free” services from the government, they lose in other areas, even if it’s very indirect, or even if they’re used to it. But this is not going to be a discussion about the economics of socialized medicine, beyond this: when other people (or the State) pays for it, they can claim the right to control it. And usually they eventually cash in on this power. References: History.

  3. richie79 says:

    BL, the British Fertility Society’s threshold for withholding treatment is a BMI of 30 or above, and most NHS PCTs have been quick to adopt these draconian guidelines, despite a Scottish study in 2008 suggesting that ‘no significant difference was found between groups in the proportion of women having a positive pregnancy test, ongoing pregnancy, and live birth’ and ‘no difference in the cost of a live birth between normal weight women and women with a BMI up to 35’.

    However the British Government and its agencies have been riding roughshod over Article 8 (right to respect for family life) of the European Convention of Human Rights for several years, not only with the rationing of IVF and the weight-loss hoops through which prospective adoptive parent are forced to jump before their applications are considered, but more worryingly with the tendency for social services to remove fat children or the thin children of fat parents from stable and loving homes on the basis that their health or future health is at risk.

    Unfortunately we’re very selective in applying EU human rights legislation, and I suspect in this area the first ‘aim and outcome’ of the ‘Every Child Matters’ programme (every child should be healthy) trumps the rights of either child or parents to respect for their family life (and in many such cases the sanctity of their home, also enshrined under Article 8). However if we could ever somehow drum up enough support and enlist sufficient expertise to take some of these organisations (not least the Government itself) to the European Court, it would be interesting to see if they, too, decree fat people to be uniquely unworthy of protection under these laws.

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