The following article appeared, in slightly different form, in Human Life Review, Summer 2009. Copyright © 2009 by Mary Meehan.

The Triumph of Eugenics in Prenatal Testing

Part I. How It Happened

Mary Meehan

Cover of <em>Birth Defects</em> issue

The July, 1972, issue of Birth Defects, in which
geneticist James Crow promoted eugenics

"If eugenics is a dirty word," said University of Wisconsin geneticist James Crow in 1972, "we can find something else that means the same thing." And he pointedly asked, "How far should we defend the right of a parent to produce a child that is painfully diseased, condemned to an early death, or mentally retarded?" Prof. Crow served on the board of the American Eugenics Society for several years in the 1970s--both before and after the group changed its name to Society for the Study of Social Biology. The Society's name change "does not coincide with any change of its interests or policies," the group assured its followers in 1973.

In pushing eugenics, Crow didn't represent some fringe group in genetics. He was past president of two major U.S. genetics groups. The eugenics board on which he served was chaired for years by genetics giant Theodosius Dobzhansky and also included other leading geneticists.(1)

Frederick Osborn (1889-1981), the mastermind of the American Eugenics Society after World War II, already was using a substitute for the dirty word of eugenics. In 1965 he told a correspondent: "The term medical genetics has taken the place of the old term negative eugenics..."(2) The older term means efforts to prevent births among people deemed to be inferior, especially those with inherited disabilities.

Osborn, six feet and eight inches in height, was an impressive son of the American establishment. Born into a wealthy New York family, he graduated from Princeton and made his own fortune in business. Later he had experience as an army general and diplomat. But eugenics--the effort to breed a better human race--was his main work and his passion. Highly intelligent and shrewd, Osborn was extremely well-connected. His friends included President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt and various Rockefellers, whose fortune he tapped for eugenics projects.

Frederick Osborn addresses an audience

Frederick Osborn
(Photo courtesy of: American Philosophical Society.
Permission to publish required.)

Osborn and his eugenics colleagues were deeply involved in efforts to prevent the births of people with disabilities. They encouraged the influence of eugenics--a political ideology--on the science of genetics. And they supported development of prenatal testing and eugenic abortion in the 1950s and 1960s. Prenatal testing is a huge funnel that's wide at the top-- enticing and pressuring women and couples to agree to testing--and narrowly pointed toward eugenic abortion at the bottom.

This article will show how organized eugenics led to the lethal combination of testing and abortion. But it's important to keep in mind that eugenics also has influence far beyond its formal membership. The eugenics ideology is widespread in science and medicine, and has been for nearly a hundred years.(3)

A later article will describe government involvement and show how the testing-abortion combination has made pregnancy a wretched experience for many women and couples. It will explore ways in which resistance to eugenics might become more effective. It also will highlight programs that offer moral support and practical aid to families with special-needs children.

The Deepest Bias in Eugenics

So many people have condemned eugenics for its racial and class bias that some may assume these are its only problems. Yet bigotry against people with disabilities is its deepest bias of all, and possibly its oldest. People killed handicapped babies in ancient Greece and Rome, and some great philosophers supported the practice. In The Republic, Plato endorsed infanticide under the euphemism of "put away": "...the offspring of the inferior, or of the better when they chance to be deformed, will be put away in some mysterious, unknown place, as they should be." In his Politics, Aristotle bluntly declared: "...let there be a law that no deformed child shall live."(4) Ancient Greeks and Romans drowned handicapped newborns or abandoned them to the elements and wild animals. Besides killing children with visible handicaps, they probably killed many who were well-formed but sickly.(5)

English scientist Francis Galton invented the modern form of eugenics and in 1883 coined the actual word "eugenics" from Greek words that mean "well-born." He said eugenics "must be introduced into the national conscience, like a new religion." Alluding to his cousin Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, Galton claimed: "What Nature does blindly, slowly, and ruthlessly, man may do providently, quickly, and kindly."(6)

Galton disciples in America, though, eventually proved that they could be as cruel as ancient Greeks and Romans. Today, prenatal testing targets for killing many children the ancients would have missed. Instead of drowning handicapped children after birth or abandoning them in a wilderness, abortionists dismember them in the womb or kill them with a lethal injection to the heart. They do this at a time when surgeons, therapists, and teachers have made great progress in helping handicapped children who are not killed before birth.

In the early 1900s, before development of prenatal testing, eugenicists in many states promoted compulsory sterilization of people with mental retardation or mental illness. They did this on the theory that if such people had children, the children likely would inherit their mental problems. Sterilization also swept up people who were not retarded--but were desperately poor, had little education, and didn't speak standard English.

Carrie Buck, the young Virginia woman whose sterilization was approved by the Supreme Court in the 1927 Buck v. Bell case, apparently was in this category. Carrie had one daughter before her sterilization, but the daughter died in early childhood (after making the honor roll in school). Though Carrie worked hard at useful jobs--picking apples, for example, and caring for elderly people--she never made much money. Nor, apparently, did her husband. With no children to look after them in their old age, the couple lived in dire poverty. Carrie Buck Detamore's grammar wasn't perfect, but her logic was fine when she summed up the sterilization craze of her youth: "They done me wrong. They done us all wrong."(7)

Eugenicists, though, could celebrate the fact that she hadn't been a burden to taxpayers. Founders of the American Eugenics Society had said eugenic measures meant that "our burden of taxes can be reduced by decreasing the number of degenerates, delinquents, and defectives supported in public institutions..."(8) That appeal to economic self-interest was to be a major theme of eugenics. It is still very much with us.

Cover of American Eugenics Society's 1930 membership list

This 1930 eugenics membership list included
immensely wealthy and powerful Rockefellers,
other key members of the power elite, and
major geneticists.

By the 1950s and 1960s, leading eugenicists encouraged research on prenatal testing and pressed for legal change to allow abortion of children with serious handicaps. Why didn't they continue to rely on coerced sterilization instead? A 1942 Supreme Court decision, Skinner v. Oklahoma, while not overruling Buck v. Bell, had weakened legal defenses of sterilization laws. Civil rights activists began protesting forced sterilization. (Although many sterilization targets were poor whites such as Carrie Buck, others were poor blacks.) In addition, there was much evidence to challenge the assumption that mental retardation is usually hereditary. The sterilization net probably had caught many people who wouldn't have had "defective" children.(9)

The Ones It Missed

Yet it had missed many people who did have children with handicaps. Such parents included the era's leading eugenicist, Frederick Osborn himself. A letter in Osborn's papers indicates that his wife and nearly all of her siblings had mental illness and that one sibling was institutionalized for 50 years or more. One of the Osborns' six children apparently had severe mental illness.(10) Yet Frederick Osborn believed that he and his wife, both descended from early American families, had excellent genes apart from that one problem. In a 1962 letter to a granddaughter, Osborn said that "you are the carrier of about as fine a set of genes as can be found. You may not realize how good they are. Certainly in the top one or two percent of the population as a whole. It would be a shame to mix them with poor stock..."(11)

Osborn's interest in eugenics predated his marriage and fatherhood. The subject was popular in the upper class to which he belonged; and an uncle, Henry Fairfield Osborn, was a leader of the eugenics movement. But the younger Osborn's experience with mental illness in his wife and child may explain the intensity of his interest in inherited disease. By the 1950s, he knew that prenatal testing was becoming a reality. I have found in his papers no discussion of this with reference to his own family. But he probably reasoned that prenatal testing--combined with eugenic abortion--meant that his grandchildren might eliminate any children with mental illness and thus pass on only their good genes.

Osborn's correspondence suggests that he was an affectionate husband and father; yet it's chilling to read some of his formal writing. In 1939 he wrote: "Fortunately, the death rates of persons suffering from mental disease are far higher than those for persons of similar age in the general population." And, forty years later: "An advance had been made in public acceptance of the idea of controlling the birth of defectives..."(12) Whether or not he made the connection consciously, the "defectives" he wrote about included his own wife and child. He once declared, "People not capable of sound thinking should be reduced in number as rapidly as possible." Sheldon Reed, a eugenics colleague, remarked that this "sounds a little stark. It gives me an impression that the guillotine is just around the corner."(13)

As early as 1941, Osborn had said the public "should insist that doctors and public health authorities get to work at reducing the number of defectives." This was a recurring theme, and he used economic arguments to back it up. By 1972, when Down syndrome children increasingly were targeted by prenatal testing and abortion, Osborn complained: "Now with modern medical care they can be carried through to an age of thirty to forty years at an expense estimated at over $200,000 for each case of mongolism" (as Down syndrome was then called). But he could claim advance toward a longtime goal. "Reducing the frequency of inherited defects and deficiencies," he wrote, "has become an important function of medicine and public health. It is not done under the name of eugenics, but it is no less effective for that reason."(14)

A socialist wing of eugenics has resisted the ideology's racial and class bias. In the last century, that wing included prominent scientists such as H. J. Muller.(15) The eugenic socialists, though, generally shared the deeper prejudice based on disability. This is one reason why today's political left accepts the combination of prenatal testing and eugenic abortion. The disability-rights movement did not really get off the ground in the U.S. until the 1970s. Had it started fifty years earlier, it could have done fierce battle with eugenics, and it might have kept the political left true to the principle of equal rights. Eugenics might not have become the powerful monster it is today.

Margaret Sanger--a Planned Parenthood founder and onetime Socialist Party member--was so enthusiastic about eugenics that she belonged to both the American Eugenics Society and its English counterpart. Her prejudice against people with disabilities was deep and unrelenting. In 1922 she complained that "the vicious circle of mental and physical defect, delinquency and beggary is encouraged, by the unseeing and unthinking sentimentality of our age, to populate asylum, hospital and prison." She spoke of people "who never should have been born at all." Malformed children, she said, were "biological and racial mistakes."(16)

Book cover of Margaret Sanger's autobiography

Sanger did not improve with age. In 1952 she said people with hereditary disease should not be allowed to marry unless they agreed to be sterilized. Further: "No more children when parents, though showing no affliction themselves, have given birth to offspring with mental and nervous disease--morons, cleft palate, Mongolian idiots." By "Mongolian idiots," she meant people with Down syndrome. British Dr. John Langdon Down, who described the condition in the 1800s, mistakenly thought the almond-shaped eyes of such people indicated a link with Mongolians. Idiocy was a term for severe mental retardation, although in fact most people with Down syndrome are not severely retarded.(17) Other demeaning terms for disability have included "harelip" for cleft lip; "lobster claw syndrome" for cleft hand or foot; and "anencephalic monster" for a newborn who is missing part of the brain. Those terms have done much to isolate and dehumanize their targets.

At least Sanger did not call for aborting children with disabilities. But the technology to find handicaps before birth was not available then, and Sanger publicly opposed abortion in any case. In the same talk in which she spoke of "Mongolian idiots," she dealt with population control and declared: "Abortions break down the health of the mother without preventing renewed pregnancy at an early date. Abortions are the very worst way to prevent increase in the population. Let us make an end to all this suffering, waste, enfeeblement and despair."(18)S

But Planned Parenthood would abandon this approach in the 1960s under the leadership of another eugenicist, Dr. Alan Guttmacher. Meanwhile, Sanger and others had encouraged terrible attitudes toward people with disabilities. And I wonder: Did any of them, as they developed their own disabilities in old age, regret things they had said when they were hale and hearty?

The Great Manipulator

Frederick Osborn realized that overtly racist and political advocates of eugenics had done it much harm in the early 1900s. He once told his colleagues in the American Eugenics Society: "The public will accept negative eugenics from the doctor in a way it would certainly not accept it from an organized but non-scientific movement." Or, as he later said, "Eugenic goals are most likely to be attained under a name other than eugenics."(19) His establishment connections helped him bring this about.

As a trustee of a major foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Osborn wrote a 1940 memo on its funding of research in human biology. That included what he called a "small but fairly rounded program in medical genetics."(20) Around the same time, he wrote about a conference, funded by eugenics society members, of the "Committee on the Registration and Social Control of Subcultural and Defective Groups." The Rockefeller Foundation, a major funder of eugenics, was represented at the conference.(21)

Osborn had not served a day in the U.S. military; but as war approached in late 1941, his friend President Roosevelt appointed him a temporary army general and put him in charge of troop morale. Osborn served throughout the Second World War, and his surveys of soldiers' attitudes gave him helpful background for his eugenics work. He was a great believer in using opinion surveys to shape both strategy and public-relations messages.

After the war, and some diplomatic work for President Harry S. Truman, Osborn plunged back into eugenics. He must have been happy to see the formal launching of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) in 1948. All of the founding officers were eugenicists. The first president, H. J. Muller, was an old-timer in eugenics, going back at least to 1921.(22) He had written a 1939 statement, signed by other leading scientists, that is sometimes labeled the "Geneticists' Manifesto." Essentially a declaration of left-wing eugenics, it called for "ever more efficacious means of birth control," including abortion "as a third line of defense" after sterilization and contraception.(23)

Osborn signed up as a member of ASHG, and in 1958 he served as its vice president. The genetics group was top-heavy with eugenicists in its early years. Ten of its first twelve presidents were linked to eugenics. So were many other early officers and several of its journal editors.

Book cover of Daniel J. Kevles's <em>In the Name of Eugenics</em>

This 1985 book has valuable information on
H. J. Muller and other leading 20th-century
geneticists; but it does not connect the dots
between eugenics and the American Society
of Human Genetics.

In ASHG's 61 years of existence, over one-third of its presidents have had formal eugenics links. More may have had them, but research on recent decades is difficult. The American Eugenics Society last published a membership list in 1956; so tracking recent members requires much sleuthing in archives and elsewhere. After the society changed its name in the early 1970s, many people assumed it no longer exists. But it is still with us, and still publishes the journal Social Biology.(24)

From 1950 to 1961, the American Eugenics Society paid a great deal of attention to medical genetics. Its publications, first Eugenical News and later Eugenics Quarterly, published information on genetic disease. The society sponsored several conferences related to the topic, including one to encourage genetic advice in marriage counseling and another to promote genetics teaching for medical students. It also persuaded the Population Council to finance several fellowships for postgraduate work in genetics.(25)

It might be more accurate, though, to say that Frederick Osborn decided to finance the fellowships. He was cofounder, first administrator, and later president of the Population Council, which was funded largely by his friend, John D. Rockefeller 3rd. The Council focused mainly on population control in poor countries and among poor people in the U.S. Like other Osborn enterprises, it was stacked with eugenicists. To obtain Council money for genetics fellowships, Osborn took off his eugenics hat, put on his Council hat, and told his Council colleagues what he wanted.(26) As old-time magicians used to say of their own hat tricks, "Presto!"

A 1956 issue of <em>Eugenics Quarterly</em>

This issue of the American Eugenics Society's flagship
journal contains the group's 1956 membership list.
Leading geneticists of the era were on the list.

Osborn also promoted "heredity counseling," in which geneticists advised couples who feared that a family disease might be passed on to their children. Sometimes a first child already showed evidence of the disease, and the parents worried about the outlook for future children they hoped to have. Geneticists reviewed information on family background and advised on odds of transmission. If the genetic disease was especially devastating and the chance of transmitting it seemed high, a couple might opt for sterilization, contraception, or periodic abstinence--and then adopt children. When Osborn and other officers of the American Eugenics Society issued their report for 1953-57, they called heredity counseling "the opening wedge in the public acceptance of eugenic principles." They realized, though, that it was an uncertain process--a matter of educated guesses and calculations.

About 20 years earlier, their Eugenical News had reported on eugenic abortion in Nazi Germany and in Denmark.(27) That practice, too, had been based on guesses and calculations. Recently, though, there had been breakthroughs in using amniocentesis for prenatal testing. Amniocentesis dates back at least to the late 1800s, when doctors started to drain amniotic fluid from the womb if a great excess of fluid endangered an unborn child and/or the mother. In the 1950s doctors started using amniocentesis to analyze and manage Rh disease. So the early uses of the technique were truly therapeutic. But in 1955-56, researchers in several countries found that fetal sex could be determined by checking fetal cells in amniotic fluid. This led to abortion of male babies in cases of sex-linked genetic disease. (In hemophilia, for example, when a woman is a carrier, each of her sons has a 50-percent chance of having the disease. Some parents were prepared to abort every son rather than face hemophilia.) Then researchers found that specific diseases could be diagnosed by studying fetal cells retrieved in amniocentesis. Later there would be newer methods of prenatal diagnosis, such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and ultrasound.(28)

Pushing the Deadly Combination

Frederick Osborn and his colleagues watched these developments closely. A 1956 report in their Eugenics Quarterly noted that some sex-linked diseases could be detected "at a state of pregnancy where interruption is still possible." Yet "interruption"--a Danish euphemism for abortion--then was illegal in the United States in nearly all cases. But not for long. The Rockefeller Foundation was funding a project, run by the American Law Institute, to write a model penal code for the states. British eugenicist and legal scholar Glanville Williams was a consultant to the project. In a book published while it was underway, Williams doubted there should be any punishment for "a mother who, finding that she has given birth to a viable monster or an idiot child, kills it." He supported abortion for fetal handicap. "To allow the breeding of defectives is a horrible evil," Williams wrote, adding that it was "far worse than any that may be found in abortion."(29)

Cover of 1957 membership list of England's Eugenics Society

Americans Frederick Osborn and Margaret Sanger were
on this English eugenics list, and British scholar Glanville
Williams was a fellow of England's Eugenics Society by
1959. A few years later, Williams became president of
England's Abortion Law Reform Association. He was one
of several eugenicists cited by Justice Harry Blackmun
of the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade (1973).

Another consultant to the American Law Institute project was Dr. Manfred Guttmacher, a psychiatrist. He happened to be the identical twin of Dr. Alan Guttmacher, an obstetrician, and Alan happened to be vice president of the American Eugenics Society. (Later he would be president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and would push that group into strong support of abortion.) Alan Guttmacher sat in on at least two meetings related to the model penal code and, in 1956, reported to his eugenics colleagues: "Even the most liberal American statute [on abortion] makes no reference to any eugenic consideration. The study group took cognizance of this omission and is planning to frame a model statute to include eugenic considerations..." They did just that. When the American Law Institute debated the issue in 1959, a key leader remarked that doctors throughout the country were doing abortions when there was substantial likelihood of defect, "confident that the law cannot mean what it says."(30)

When the Institute approved the model penal code in 1962, it proposed allowing abortion in several cases, including when a doctor finds substantial risk "that the child would be born with grave physical or mental defect." Eleven years later, in his 1973 majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, Justice Harry Blackmun said 14 states had adopted "some form" of the Institute's proposal, but didn't say how many had adopted the eugenics provision. Blackmun also cited the Glanville Williams book, though not its eugenics statements. But as attorney Rebecca Messall suggested in this Review several years ago, it seems fair to suppose that Blackmun read the book before citing it. She also documented other eugenics influences on Roe.(31) That decision opened the floodgates for prenatal testing and eugenic abortion.

The journal and annual meetings of the American Society of Human Genetics had included information on prenatal testing for several years before Roe, but frank discussion of eugenic abortion had been rare. Dr. Jérôme Lejeune, the French geneticist who had discovered the chromosomal basis of Down syndrome, raised the issue when he received the society's top award in 1969. In a lecture that leading American geneticists still remembered decades later, Lejeune proposed a special eugenics group--the National Institute of Death--to get rid of embryos and newborns who didn't meet certain standards. There was a catch, though: "To prevent any possible error, concern, or prejudice, the advisors shall be chosen from among knowledgeable persons not belonging to any philosophy, society, or race."

Turning from that ironic approach, Lejeune warned his American colleagues: "For millennia, medicine has striven to fight for life and health and against disease and death. Any reversal of the order of these terms of reference would entirely change medicine itself." He added: "It happens that nature does condemn. Our duty has always been not to inflict the sentence but to try to commute the pain. In any foreseeable genetical trial I do not know enough to judge, but I feel enough to advocate."(32)

Yet just a year later, American geneticist Arno Motulsky, receiving the same award that Lejeune had, said that prenatal diagnosis "is giving an exciting new dimension to genetic counseling." He looked forward to development of prenatal testing for sickle cell anemia, believing that this, "followed by selective abortion, would seem easier in the long run" than avoiding mating of carriers or "complicated therapies of the disease." After the American Eugenics Society changed its name, Dr. Motulsky's name appeared on its (unpublished) 1974 membership list, and he served on the group's board of directors in 1988-93.(33)

Marching into Eugenics

The March of Dimes played a huge role in developing and promoting prenatal testing and counseling. Headed for years by Basil O'Connor, friend and former law partner of President Franklin Roosevelt, the foundation had focused on preventing the polio that had paralyzed Roosevelt and many others. The success of polio vaccine in the early 1950s had left the wealthy foundation casting about for another cause. In 1958 it announced a major focus on birth defects. Soon Dr. Virginia Apgar became its Chief of Congenital Malformations. She was a member of the American Society of Human Genetics, and at some point she joined the American Eugenics Society.(34)

Under Apgar and her successors, the March of Dimes vastly expanded the number of genetics counseling centers in the U.S. It put large sums into research to develop prenatal testing. It pressed for insurance reimbursement for that testing and campaigned for government promotion of it. It funded development of the National Society of Genetic Counselors. Audrey Heimler, the first president of this society, appeared on the 1974 membership list of the Society for the Study of Social Biology--that is, the old American Eugenics Society doing business under its new name.(35)

The March of Dimes did, and does, support some positive approaches to improve the health of babies both before and after birth. Yet it also has conducted a relentless drive for prenatal testing. The foundation's long-published professional journal, Birth Defects, carried many articles that supported eugenic abortion. Writing there in 1971 about prenatal diagnosis for couples who already had one child with disability, three professors bluntly said: "The aim of such a program is the identification of subsequent affected children and their selective abortion."(36) One writer spoke about "abortion as a means of disease control." Others even suggested aborting carriers of genetic disease.(37)

As awareness grew about the guilt and grief that eugenic abortion caused to parents, Birth Defects started running articles about grief counseling, support groups for couples, and even funeral services for aborted children. One article noted that prostaglandin abortion "allows for the parents to view and hold their fetus" and also allows "confirmation of structural anomalies by autopsy." The writers added: "This confirmation may alleviate parental guilt and allow for a more expedient resolution of the grief reaction." But they coldly suggested that "controlled, psychologic studies" to compare prostaglandin abortion with dilation and extraction (that is, abortion by dismemberment) "are needed before the long-term psychologic effects can be evaluated."(38)

Other writers offered a protocol for counseling parents through abortion. Among their suggestions: "Validate their decision: What would have been the burden on them? What would have been the effect on their normal children? What would the affected child's life have been like? Encourage or support the feeling that they had no choice but to terminate." But what should they tell their other children about the abortion? The writers suggested honesty and reassuring the others that "this can't happen to them." They also advised: "Do not implicate the hospital as a place where children go and never return."(39)

Book cover of Robin J. R. Blatt's <em>Prenatal Tests</em>

Like the article in the March of Dimes Birth
journal just noted, this 1988
book advised telling siblings of a child who
is aborted for handicap that they will not
be disposed of because of sickness or disability.

Other Birth Defects contributors used the Orwellian words of "selective termination" (killing one unborn twin who is handicapped while sparing one who is not) and "fetal reduction" (killing one or more children when fertility treatments produce twins, triplets, or higher multiples). Doctors do these abortions by injecting potassium chloride to the fetal heart. At Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, the writers reported, "As many as four fetuses were terminated at one session." In the case of second-trimester abortion for handicap, nothing was left to chance: "All pregnancies were rescanned 30 minutes following the initial injection...and if cardiac activity was identified, a repeat procedure was performed the same day." The writers acknowledged, "Many couples question the level of 'consciousness' that the remaining fetuses have and wonder if the remaining fetuses somehow know that one of their potential sibs was terminated. These couples wonder if children who remain will, as they grow, be a constant reminder of the fetuses that were terminated."(40)

Perhaps March of Dimes leaders finally realized that Birth Defects was a house of horrors. The last issue was published in 1996.

When under attack from right-to-lifers, the March of Dimes claimed that it provided testing and counseling only, that it did not do abortions or advocate for them. Asked about this claim in 1992, Dr. Jérôme Lejeune said it would be the same as saying, "I'm selling guns to terrorists. I know they are terrorists, but I am just selling guns. Nothing more than that."(41) Lejeune, who died two years later, was one of the greatest defenders of the bedrock medical rule, "First, do no harm." And one of very few in genetics.

To reach Part II of this series, please click here.


Special thanks to the American Philosophical Society for permission to quote from documents in its collections, as cited below, and for permission to use its photograph of Frederick Osborn.

1. James F. Crow, "Conclusion," Birth Defects: Original Article Series (hereafter referred to as Birth Defects), vol. 8, no. 4 (July 1972), 115-18; "A New Name," Social Biology 20, no. 1 (March 1973), 1; and ibid., 1969-75 & 1979-81.

2. Frederick Osborn to Paul Popenoe, 25 March 1965, American Eugenics Society Records, American Philosophical Society Library, Philadelphia, Pa. On Osborn's background, see Frederick Henry Osborn Papers, ibid.; Osborn's obituary in the New York Times, 7 Jan. 1981, B-12; and Mary Meehan, "How Eugenics Birthed Population Control," Human Life Review 24, no 4 (Fall 1998), 76-89.

3. Ibid.; and Mary Meehan, "What's Wrong with the Science Establishment?" Human Life Review 26, no. 4 (Fall 2000), 63-85.

4. Plato, The Republic, 460; and Aristotle, Politics, 7.16.

5. Seneca, De Ira, 1.15.

6. Francis Galton, Essays in Eugenics (London: Eugenics Education Society, 1909; reprint, Washington, D.C.: Scott-Townsend Publishers, 1996), 75 & 42.

7. Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927); Carlos Santos, "Historic Test Case," Richmond Times-Dispatch, 17 Feb. 2002, B-1 & B-5; and William Branigin, "Va. Apologizes to the Victims of Sterilization, Washington Post, 3 May 2002, B-1 & B-9.

8. Irving Fisher and others, "Dear Madam," n.d. [1922?], Anita McComb McGee Papers, box 1, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

9. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535 (1942); Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body (New York: Vintage Books/Random House, 1999), 65-72 & 89-98; and Philip R. Reilly, The Surgical Solution (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1991), 104, 117, & 157-60.

10. Frederick Osborn to Dr. West, 4 Jan. 1975 [handwritten note at top says "not delivered"], Frederick Henry Osborn Papers (n. 2); and Frederick Osborn to Paul Popenoe, 14 May 1970, American Eugenics Society Records (n. 2).

11. Frederick Osborn to "Ros," 30 March 1962, Frederick Henry Osborn Papers (n. 2).

12. Frederick Osborn, "The Significance to Medicine of Present Population Trends," Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 2nd series, vol. 15, no. 7 (July 1939), 427-41, 434; and Frederick Osborn, Voyage to a New World, 1889-1979 (Garrison, N.Y.: privately printed, 1979), 125.

13. Frederick Osborn, "Heredity and Practical Eugenics Today," Eugenical News 33, nos. 1-2 (March-June 1948), 1-6, 6; and Sheldon C. Reed, ibid., nos. 3-4 (Sept.-Dec. 1948), 46.

14. Frederick Osborn, "Eugenics and National Defense," Eugenical News 26, no. 2 (June 1941), 37-39, 38; and F.O. [Frederick Osborn], "The Emergence of a Valid Eugenics," 15 Dec. 1972, 6, in loose-leaf notebook labeled FO 1972-19__: Writings and Speeches, Frederick Henry Osborn Papers (n. 2).

15. Diane Paul, "Eugenics and the Left," Journal of the History of Ideas 45, no. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1984), 567-90; Daniel J. Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics (New York: Knopf, 1985); Alberto Spektorowski, "The Eugenic Temptation in Socialism: Sweden, Germany, and the Soviet Union," Comparative Studies in Society and History 46, no. 1 (Jan. 2004), 84-106; and Gunnar Broberg and Nils Roll-Hansen, ed., Eugenics and the Welfare State, 2nd ed. (East Lansing, Mich.: Michigan State University Press, 2005).

16. Margaret Sanger, The Pivot of Civilization (New York: Brentano's, 1922), 175, 187, & 273-74. For Sanger's membership in eugenics groups, see "List of Members of the American Eugenics Society" (New Haven, Conn.: n.p., Aug. 1930), [8], Margaret Sanger Papers, microfilm reel 41, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; American Eugenics Society, "Membership List, 1956," Eugenics Quarterly 3, no. 4 (Dec. 1956), 243-52, 249 (listed under her married name of Margaret Sanger Slee); and Eugenics Society (London), "List of Fellows and Members as at August 1957," 11 (bound with Eugenics Review 49, no. 3), National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Md.

17. Margaret Sanger, "The Humanity of Family Planning," in Third International Conference on Planned Parenthood, Report of the Proceedings, 24-29 November, 1952, Bombay, India (Bombay: Family Planning Association of India, n.d.), 53-55, 55; and Susan J. Skallerup, ed., Babies with Down Syndrome, 3rd ed. (Bethesda, Md.: Woodbine House, 2008), 8-11.

18. Sanger (n. 17), 54. Sanger, though, was ambivalent about abortion; see Robert G. Marshall and Charles A. Donovan, Blessed Are the Barren (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991), 239-43. But in 1947 the Planned Parenthood Federation of America was selling one pamphlet called "Don't Have an Abortion" and another titled "Abortion: Crime and Social Failure." See Eugenical News 32, no. 1 (March 1947), 14.

19. Frederick Osborn, "American Eugenics Society: Annual Meeting - May 5, 1938," 4, American Eugenics Society Records (n. 2); and Frederick Osborn, The Future of Human Heredity (New York: Weybright and Talley, 1968), 104.

20. Frederick Osborn, "Memorandum on Corporation Grants in the Field of Human Biology," Aug. 1940, 3, Papers of Vannevar Bush, box 62, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

21. Frederick Osborn, "Progress in Eugenical Research," Eugenical News 25, no. 2 (June 1940), 22-23.

22. Herluf H. Strandskov, "Historical Note," 20 Sept. 1948, reprinted in Mendel Newsletter, no. 15 (March 1978), 5-6; Report of the Second International Congress of Eugenics [held in Sept. 1921] (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins Co., 1923), 13; American Eugenics Society 1930 membership list (n. 16), [8] (H. J. Muller, first ASHG president); and American Eugenics Society 1956 membership list (n. 16), 249 (Laurence H. Snyder, first ASHG vice president) & 250 (Herluf Strandskov, first ASHG secretary-treasurer).

23. Paul (n. 15), 583; and "Plan for Improving Population Drawn by Famed Geneticists," Science News Letter, 26 Aug. 1939, 131-33.

24. My figures here include people who at some point were members, officers, or directors of the American Eugenics Society, under its old name or current name. Sources include the Society's 1930 and 1956 membership lists (n. 16) and an untitled 1974 membership list of the Society for the Study of Social Biology (hereafter called 1974 SSSB list) that accompanies Richard H. Osborne, memo to G. Allen and others, 3 Feb. 1975, folder on "Social Biol.: M.L.," American Eugenics Society Records (n. 2); and Social Biology, 1972-2005. Names of ASHG officers are from American Journal of Human Genetics, 1951-2007 and

25. Frederick Osborn, "History of the American Eugenics Society," Social Biology 21, no. 2 (Summer 1974), 115-26, 121-23.

26. On Osborn's role in the Population Council, see Meehan (n. 2). For information on Council grants to the American Eugenics Society, see Council annual reports and Population Council Archives, Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

27. American Eugenics Society, "Five-Year Report of the Officers: 1953-1957" (New York, n.d.), 10; "Applied Eugenics in Germany," Eugenical News 20, no. 6 (Nov.-Dec. 1935), 100; and ibid., vol. 23, no. 4 (July-Aug. 1938), 78-79 (Danish law). The Rockefeller Foundation financed much work in genetics and eugenics in Denmark, Germany, and the U.S. See Lene Koch, "The Rockefeller Foundation and Danish Eugenics," Research Reports from the Rockefeller Archive Center, Spring 1997, 5-6; Stefan Kühl, The Nazi Connection (New York: Oxford, 1994), 20-21; and Rockefeller Foundation annual reports beginning in 1913-14.

28. Ruth Schwartz Cowan, Heredity and Hope (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008), 74-107.

29. Eugenics Quarterly 3, no. 4 (Dec. 1956), 200; and Glanville Williams, The Sanctity of Life and the Criminal Law (New York: Knopf, 1957), 19 & 234.

30. Alan F. Guttmacher, "Medical Application of Genetic Theory," Eugenics Quarterly 3, no. 2 (June 1956), 67-68, 67; Alan F. Guttmacher, "Abortion: Odyssey of an Attitude," Family Planning Perspectives 4, no. 4 (Oct. 1972), 5-7; and Louis B. Schwartz in American Law Institute, 36th Annual Meeting Proceedings 1959 (Philadelphia: American Law Institute, 1960), 254.

31. American Law Institute, Model Penal Code [as adopted 24 May 1962] (Philadelphia: American Law Institute, 1985), 165-66; Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 at 140 n. 37, 130 n. 9, & 132-33 n. 21. See Rebecca Messall, "The Long Road of Eugenics: From Rockefeller to Roe v. Wade," Human Life Review 30, no. 4 (Fall 2004), 33-74, 59-67, about eugenics influence on Roe.

32. Jérôme Lejeune, "On the Nature of Men," Oct. 1969, published in American Journal of Human Genetics 22, no. 2 (March 1970), 121-28, 125 & 128.

33. Arno G. Motulsky, "Human and Medical Genetics," Oct. 1970, published in ibid., vol. 23, no. 2 (March 1971), 107-23, 118 & 120; 1974 SSSB list (n. 24); and Social Biology, 1988-93.

34. National Foundation [earlier name of March of Dimes], 1958 annual report, 4-5, and 1959 annual report, 17; 1974 SSSB list (n. 24); and Who's Who in America, 1972-73, vol. 1, 79.

35. Beverly Raff, "Genetic Services: The March of Dimes' Role," Birth Defects 26, no. 2 (1990), 188-95; Beverly R. Rollnick, "The National Society of Genetic Counselors," ibid., vol. 20, no. 6 (1984), 3-7; and 1974 SSSB list (n. 24).

36. Birth Defects, vol. 7, no. 5 (April 1971), 22.

37. Ibid., vol. 18, no. 7 (1982), 250; vol. 6, no. 1 (May 1970), 81; and vol. 10, no. 10 (1974), 291.

38. Ibid., vol. 20, no. 6 (1984), 91-95; and vol. 23, no. 6 (1987), 37-44 & 75-83, 82.

39. Ibid., vol. 26, no. 3 (1990), 157-60, 159 & 160 (emphasis in original).

40. Ibid., 81-94, 82, 83, & 91. One contributor to the article, Dr. Laird Jackson, was on the 1974 SSSB list (n. 24).

41. Jérôme Lejeune, interview by the author, 6 June 1992, Washington, D.C., transcript, author's files.