Artificial insemination and eugenics: Celibate motherhood, eutelegenesis and germinal choice

This paper traces the history of artificial insemination by selected donors as a strategy for positive eugenic improvement. While medical artificial insemination has a longer history, its use as a eugenic strategy was first mooted in late nineteenth-century France. It was then developed as ‘scientific motherhood’ for war widows and those without partners by Marion Louisa Piddington in Australia following the Great War. By the 1930s AID was being more widely used clinically in Britain as a medical solution to male infertility for married couples. In 1935 English postal clerk, Herbert Brewer, promoted AID as the socialization of the germ plasm in a eugenic scheme. The next year Hermann Muller, American Drosophila geneticist and eugenicist, presented his plan for human improvement by AID to Stalin. Some twenty years later, Muller, together with Robert Klark Graham, began planning a Foundation for Germinal Choice in California. This was finally opened in 1980 as the first practical experiment in eugenic AID, producing some 215 babies over the twenty years it functioned. While AID appeared to be a means of squaring a eugenic circle by separating paternity from love relationships, and so allowing eugenic improvement without inhibiting individual choice in marriage, it found very little favour with those who might use it, not least because of a couple’s desire to have their ‘own’ children has always seemed stronger than any eugenic aspirations. No state has ever contemplated using AID as a social policy
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2008.03.005
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References found in this work BETA
Herbert Brewer (1935). Eutelegenesis. The Eugenics Review 27 (2):121.
Diane B. Paul (1987). "Our Load of Mutations" Revisited. Journal of the History of Biology 20 (3):321 - 335.

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Citations of this work BETA
Alexander Etkind (2008). Beyond Eugenics: The Forgotten Scandal of Hybridizing Humans and Apes. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 39 (2):205-210.
Jesse Olszynko-Gryn (2014). The Demand for Pregnancy Testing: The Aschheim–Zondek Reaction, Diagnostic Versatility, and Laboratory Services in 1930s Britain. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 47:233-247.

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