Friday, January 10, 2014


I've had the chance to actually read the first 22 pages of the book, which encompasses the Foreword and the main eugenics section, though I'm focusing on the Foreword today. I think I could say something about every single sentence so far, but that would take forever. I'll try not to get bogged down and pick the best sentences. The book was originally published in 1922 by The John A. Hertel Company, and the copy I have seems to be a reprint from 1935.Without further ado, Ethical Sex Relations or The New Eugenics.

I'll keep that in mind! Think of the children is the name of the game. There's one other thing I think is important to keep in mind, since you all don't have the book in front of you. This book has what I'm going to call marginalia. I'm not sure it's exactly the correct term, but it has little summaries of paragraphs on it. They look like this:

I suspect Drs. Whitehead and Hoff are prone to dramatics. Just a hunch. That is on the first page of text, and the second marginalia in the entire book.

The first marginalia says "Parents Are God's First and Best Teachers." Sure, okay, why not?
In this age of progress along all lines and especially along the line of sociology and sexology, the question presents itself to the authors, shall our boys and girls be instructed on subjects pertaining to their sex life by parents in the home, and by teachers of virtue and intelligence, or shall they be permitted to go along in a haphazard way and get this information from the ignorant and evil-minded and foul-mouthed libertines?
Oh those kinky English libertines! They're just waiting to teach your kids "the functions of the sexual organs." The horror! How will they accept practicing eugenics if sex is about something other than breeding? Gotta get 'em early or they develop ideas of their own.
So ignorant of their moral and physical welfare have many parents been, even in the most refined circles, that they seem to think they or their physician have the moral and legal right to destroy their offspring, which act is red-handed murder and illegal in the extreme.
They really need an editor, because the entire foreword consists of run on sentences and bombastic phrasing. At the time of the book's first printing, abortion had been illegal for ~10 years except in cases that threatened the life of the woman. That's not a very long time, and we're already calling it red-handed murder? Also, how extreme is it's illegality? Is it eXtreme?

Pardon the accented e, I stole this from a site that sells cell phone cases. Apparently they're also eXtreme. At the end of the Foreword they reiterate their mission. Prepare for a paragraph long sentence!
With a sincere hope that these plain facts relative to the  various epochs of human life may be inculcated into the lives of our readers and especially into the lives of their offspring who may thus become a strong, clean, virtuous and happy people, this volume is sent out on its mission for good.
See you in the text, guys.

Snarkless sidebar:

I actually wrote a paper about some of the things they say about abortion. The history of abortion is quite interesting. Though both pro-choice and pro-life movements currently act as though abortions have always been illegal, before the mid 1800s it was completely unregulated. Doctors routinely performed abortions on women who had not quickened, or felt the baby move, though the procedures were quite risky. Doctors in the US began pushing for regulations being placed upon abortions and other medical procedures to solidify their income and prevent people who were not trained in their colleges from taking away their patient fees.

After the regulations requiring a doctors approval were in place, doctors had two different interpretations of the phrase "to save the life of the mother." One faction took it in a very strict sense, only approving abortions in cases where some sort of physical harm was happening that would kill the pregnant woman. The other faction read it more liberally, taking into account things like mental state, the ability for the woman to take care of her existing family, and other things that were didn't threaten imminent death. Immediately after the regulations took effect, both factions assumed the way they interpreted the law was the way everyone did. After a few years, it became more normal for a committee of doctors to decide if a woman was eligible for an abortion, which is when the discrepancy in interpretations became evident.

Whether or not a woman was granted permission for an abortion depended entirely on the doctors in their area. Women had to rely on word of mouth about which committees and doctors would consider their situation a threat to their life. Many turned to unlicensed people to perform abortions, which was much more likely to harm the woman than the procedures used in a hospital.

This continued until 1973 when Roe v. Wade came before the Supreme Court and redefined abortion as a right to privacy for a patient. Abortion was illegal for about 100 years in total. The demand for abortions didn't go down in that time, despite the difficulty and cost in obtaining one. The biggest difference is that the procedures were more dangerous and caused more damage.

No comments:

Post a Comment