Archibald AD, Smith MJ, Burgess T Reproductive genetic carrier screening for cystic fibrosis, fragile X syndrome, and spinal muscular atrophy in Australia: outcomes of 12,000 tests. Genetics in Medicine. 2018; 20:(5)513-523

Delatycki MB, Alkuraya F, Archibald A International perspectives on the implementation of reproductive carrier screening. Prenatal Diagnosis. 2020; 40:301-310

Dive L, Newson AJ. Reproductive carrier screening: responding to the eugenics critique. Journal of Medical Ethics. 2021; 0:1-8

Greer G. Sex and Destiny: the politics of human fertility.London: Picador; 1985

Huxley J. Man in the Modern World.London: Chatto & Windus; 1947

Reproductive carrier screening

02 October 2021
Volume 29 · Issue 10


George Winter examines the implications of screening couples to discover if they are at risk of having children with particular conditions, and the slippery slope to which this may lead

Eugenics, as Dive and Newson (2021) note, describes the political, social, and medical practices that aim to promote desirable characteristics in a species by the manipulation of heredity. In his 1947 essay ‘Eugenics and Society’, the Oxford-educated biologist, founding member of the World Wildlife Fund, and keen eugenicist Julian Huxley (1887–1975) wrote that ‘striking and rapid eugenic results can be achieved only by a virtual elimination of the few lowest and truly degenerate types and a high multiplication-rate of the few highest and truly gifted types’ (Huxley, 1947). Huxley – who was far from lacking in self-esteem – no doubt considered himself as belonging to the latter category. But Germaine Greer made the wry observation that ‘it may take a Colombian gamine more raw intelligence to survive in the barrio than it takes to gain a double first at Oxford’ (Greer, 1985).

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