Eugenics, A Good Concept Becomes a Bad Word

I was reading my turn of the century gyno text books (from the 1800s to the 1900s!) mulling over how they approached wellness care for women and pregnant patients. And there was a whole chapter on Eugenics! That caught my eye, and was prepared for outrage, but it turns out that this good concept only later acquired it's bad word connotations.  Eugenics was the approach to the population having healthy birthing, none of us can argue that this sounds like a good concept in the begging, but  it has over time become a bad word. When we as gynos talk to our patients about having a healthy baby, we usually discussing those scientific things that are known to work to produce better babies, and thus we now just label this discussion 'pregnancy planning.' But the ancient texts actually called pregnancy planning eugenics! The obstetrical writings in the past spent some amount of time talking about the principal of eugenics. Eugenics, one dictionary definition,  is the science of improving the human race, and a concept that should, in essence be a good concept immediately took on a poor connotation when the specifics of how to actually improve the human race went from "better breeding" to "\propagate those individuals that are worth perpetuating", in the opinions of elite bullies, like those of Nazi Germany! Eugenics was freely quoted in the turn of the the 20th century midwifery text books as the obvious way to get "healthy" babies to be born, although usually this was qualified with the admonition that it "was too soon to conclude scientifically which of the theories would work." This leads to the subject of world population. At the present rate of having children, world population will double in 66 years, or around 2078, and the US population will double by the year 2097. Some question our ability to healthfully provide for such growth, many do not. Each of us has our own concept of how to have a better society, and making sure the pregnancy is timed so that we are as healthy as possible, and keeping ourselves healthy through pregnancy seems a worthy strategy we can all agree upon, no matter what wording we use to label it!


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