Profound events in a person’s life often lead to the formation of passionate and deeply felt beliefs. Therefore, nothing is so disorienting as when an entirely different set of circumstances brings those same beliefs into question.
In order for you, the reader, to understand the significance of what I am about to tell you, I must first lead you through the journey by which I came to this place. I apologize in advance for the graphic nature of some of this story. I promise not to assail you with gratuitous imagery, but the emotion behind the belief cannot be understood without knowing what caused these feelings.
I grew up in western Philadelphia in the 1960s. Abortion was illegal then. Women driven to desperation sought back-alley abortions. These were often unsafe and unsanitary environments, and the procedure done with anything handy – including straightened coat hangers. The news was filled with stories of women who, instead of receiving an abortion, were robbed, killed, or sexually assaulted. Others had botched abortions that led to infection, serious injury, or badly damaged but still living infants. I was particularly struck by a couple of news accounts of full-term deliveries where the newborn babies were discarded in dumpsters and died of exposure, or were eaten alive by insects and vermin.
In the 1970s I became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and worked as full-time paid ambulance crew. Every day we drove the city streets. It was clear which children had a mother, grandmother, or aunt that hollered down the street – watching and directing them. It was equally obvious which ones were ignored, neglected, and unwanted. I saw abandoned, throw away children sitting on the sidewalks and playing in empty lots.
I knew what the law said, but I saw women dying, babies dying, and unwanted children were living empty, loveless lives. My upbringing as a Quaker told me that none of these options were acceptable.
I reached a decision: if babies were going to die, it should be fast, painless, and clinical. If they were going to be born, they should be wanted and loved. Abortion needed to be legal. I joined the protests.
Roe v. Wade changed the landscape and the discussion. I listened the arguments of the religious right, but could not reconcile their anguish over abortion with the more vivid tragedies I witnessed in my youth. In the lectures by C. Everett Koop that I attended, he spoke of how abortion cheapened life. He was still the surgeon-in-chief at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, so I listened with respect to his position because he was clearly in the front line of this issue and dealt with it daily. Yet I found that I could neither understand nor agree with his argument.
Fast forward to the next decade.
I had moved to Colorado. I was working in an office where I had befriended the receptionist. She was a very nice girl, fresh out of high school, but still living at home. One day she came to me for help. On a cold winter’s day her new boy friend had taken her to a football game, along with a thermos full of peppermint schnapps. He got her drunk… then pregnant. Then he disappeared from her life. I drove her to the abortion clinic and arranged for her to stay the weekend at my girlfriend’s apartment to recover.
This was my first pivot-point.
At the clinic I listened to the women around me complaining about the inconvenience of pregnancy. They were discussing previous abortions. “Number eight,” bragged one woman. I realized at that moment that for many, abortion was their only form of birth control. To not use birth control when it was available free or very inexpensively was irresponsible. To not use any protection at all in an era when people died from sexually transmitted diseases was unconscionable.
While I was disturbed that something that had come into being to help a few women out of desperate circumstances had become a tool that allowed thoughtless people to engage in bad behavior, my overall belief about the need for abortion remained unchanged.
It was another decade, and a strange set of circumstances, before that belief was challenged again. It took several more years for the significance of what I learned to sink in. When it did, it rocked my world.
My wife had been approached by a women’s health advocate named Leslie Botha. They became writing partners on a book about how the natural cycles of hormones affect women’s health and well-being. Over the ensuing years I supported their efforts by applying my skills in research, library and information science, and information design.
Here was where my worlds collided.
I knew about eugenics from a historical standpoint. In a nutshell, eugenics is about improving the condition of the human race through genetics, and was part of a movement that was active about 100 years ago. Therefore, in an activity that centered around reproduction, I was not surprised to find numerous references in women’s health.
What confused me was the material I found that discussed eugenics in the present tense. I was intrigued. I followed the path. Once I started looking, I found connections everywhere.
At first my impression was that a small, hard-core group of devote followers were continuing to perpetuate the eugenics movement. But the threads went in too many different directions – through science fiction and popular literature, medical texts, government policy papers, science journals, economics white papers – everywhere it seemed except in the history books. So I set out to research the history.
As the months and my research accumulated, my reaction changed first to disbelief, then to fear. I began to truly understand what eugenics meant, and how large and pervasive the movement had become.
The full intent of eugenics is this: In much the same way as farmers and ranchers selectively breed their livestock to develop the desired characteristics, eugenicists want to selectively breed humanity, all of humanity, to make the race smarter, stronger, healthier, and better looking.
It does not stop there, though. Undesirable characteristics need to be eliminated. People are classified by their “fitness” to breed. The genes of unfit people would be removed from the human gene pool. This is accomplished through sterilization or euthanasia. Whole classes of people were deemed unfit, including the mentally and physically handicapped, homosexuals, the poor, and most ethnic minorities.
Many of us are familiar with Hitler’s attempt to develop the master race, but that was modeled after a similar program that had been run for years here in the United States. Nor did it stop with the end of World War II, it just changed names and tactics.
Over the course of the next year, largely because I have accumulated far too much data to present in a shorter time frame, I will introduce you to many people in positions of power and influence who ascribe to the eugenics philosophy, often in their own writings or on video. I will detail all the data on who has suffered, and who has benefited. I will present the laws and policies in countries around the globe, the groups and organizations, the frameworks that are being build by governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), all with a single goal:
…to eliminate one of the most fundamental human rights – the choice of when, if, or with whom you want to have children.