Mark E. Sullivan: Not eugenics

June 24, 2014 

Regarding the June 21 column “ Yes, Virginia, there is eugenics”: Strangling the meaning of words may make cute headlines. It doesn’t justify creating new definitions to argue against a perceived wrong.

A Virginia plea agreement included consent to a vasectomy by a man who’d fathered seven or eight children, all by different women. He stood charged with child endangerment, hit-and-run driving and driving on a suspended license. To create a pretext for opposing this plea deal, the article claimed that this is eugenics.

However, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says that eugenics is “a science that dealt with the improvement – of hereditary qualities of a race or breed.”

Ensuring that a defendant who cannot exercise restraint and self-control in so many areas will not be able to bring more children into the world whom he cannot “father” in any meaningful way is not “eugenics.”

Mark E. Sullivan


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