EUGENICS Eugenics is the science of the improvement of the human race by better breeding. The success of a marriage from the standpoint of eugenics is measured by the number of normal, cultivable offspring that arise. It has to deal with traits that reside in the germ plasm. The superstition of pre-natal in fluence and the effects of venereal disease lie outside the scope of eugenics.
In the foregoing paragraphs we have only sketched the hereditary transmission of certain undesirable qualities. If space permitted, a similar sketch of the hereditary transmission of desirable qualities could be presented. It is these eugenics desires to augment and to eliminate the undesirable. The science is in its infancy at present and our knowledge is but fragmentary. Some progress can be made among those of intelligence by propaganda explaining the known facts. Un fortunately among those possessing many undesirable charac teristics such means of propaganda is impossible. Appeals cannot be made to the degenerate, to the criminal, to the feeble minded. The elimination of the hereditary traits of this char acter require the united action of society to stop the procreation of those who are unfit by reason of defective germ plasm. No real progress has been made in this direction but in some places a creditable start has been made.
Prohibition of the marriage of those possessing socially undesirable characteristics will not prevent the illegitimate procreation of such individuals. Such laws are manifestly
inadequate. A solution that has been legally adopted in some states is that of sterilization, but its enforcement has been limited. There is no question but that such a procedure applied to all the feeble minded, the epileptic, insane or criminal persons in the country would produce an enormous reduction in the institutional population in the course of a generation. The greatest difficulty lies in the satisfactory definition or accurate recognition of those whose procreative abilities should be sacri ficed to the social welfare. An alternative solution is the segre gation in institutions of such persons until the reproductive period has passed. We could expect the same results.
On the other hand, there is the group composed of those having defects not inimical to society. Some of those traits may involve the possession of severe handicaps, and it is per haps better that such traits should become extinct. More satisfactory results in this direction can perhaps be accom plished through the persuasive powers of the physician in whom the afflicted individual has confidence. The necessity or desirability for celibacy can be judged from the type of undesirable trait presented and a knowledge of the type of Mendelian inheritance followed.