Eugenics and the Welfare State: Sterilization Policy in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland (1996)

Interesting small book that casts light on the use of sterilizations in nordic countries. It shows quite clearly that eugenics has it origin in collectivist and socialist thinking and was supported by most parties in the 20-40s. Clearly not just something the nazis did (and did wrong).

 

www.goodreads.com/book/show/3831890-eugenics-and-the-welfare-state

 

In Sweden, however, th e au th o rities advocated p ersu asio n , n o t force. The

Swedish sterilization p rogram contained several procedures by which involun­

tary sterilization was carried out. The legally incompetent, to begin with, could

be subjected to sterilization without their consent according to the 1934 and

1941 laws. How was this category defined? According to instructions circulated

by the Board of Health in 1947, a person should be able to understand “the

meaning and the consequences” of the operation to be declared legally compe­

tent. But: “Such an understanding is n o t at hand only because he knows that he

cannot have a child after a sterilization; it must furtherm ore be required that

he to some extent comprehends the importance o f sterilization for himself and

for society.” As to the mentally retarded, legal incompetence was said to prevail

if he or she could be com pared intellectually with a person twelve years old or

younger.68

 

Mental age of 12 seems to accord nicely with modern deviation based definitions. 12/16=.75 or 12/18=.67. Normalt siger man at <70 IQ er retarderet. Det samme gælder i Danmark, jf. www.sundhed.dk/borger/sygdomme-a-aa/boern/sygdomme/vaekst-og-udvikling/udviklingshaemning/

 

 

Mjoen condemned this lenient attitude toward alcohol as an irresponsible

handling o f scientific results by a “spectacle-wise” academic. M ohr was guilty

o f neglecting the risk involved by the uncertainty o f the results, argued Mjoen.

He admitted that no effects on the hereditary material had been proven. But

the lack o f scientific p ro o f in no way justified the lack o f action. “We have every

reason to believe that alcohol is a much more serious enemy for the family, the

people and the race than one has so far considered it to be!”42

 

The arg u m en t o f u nacceptable risk was often used by M joen to justify

eugenic measures. The risk incurred by not acting was so serious that it was

morally irresponsible n o t to take immediate action even on the basis o f quite

u n certain knowledge. He also justified steps against race crossing w ith the

same kind o f argument. He admitted uncertainty about the detrimental effects

and agreed that more knowledge must be sought, but in such a situation it was

safest to say, “ Until we have acquired sufficient knowledge be careful/”43

 

apparently another example of the irrational precautionary principle: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precautionary_principle

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