The Quiet Progress of the New Eugenics

Eugenics is now being legitimised through a mixture of policies including euthanasia, genetic testing and the terminations of neonatal children.

Author: Tim Stainton 

Eugenics has not been left behind in the dustbin of history where it belongs. Instead it is thriving and growing in a cocktail of policies which include euthanasia, genetic screening, abortion, and terminating the lives of neonatal children. Here we share some important new research on the progress of the New Eugenics.

The Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities published a special edition of its journal in 2019 centred around the monograph The Quiet Progress of the New Eugenics. Ending the Lives of Persons With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities for Reasons of Presumed Poor Quality of Life by Tim Stainton, Johannes Reinders and Trevor R Parmentor.

The paper argues that contemporary policies are eugenic in character, even if they are not explicit about their eugenic purpose. Three examples are explored:

  1. Ending the lives of severely disabled prematurely born infants
  2. Terminating pregnancies after positive outcomes of genetic screening and testing 
  3. Ending the lives of persons with IDD by means of euthanasia

The authors explore the prevalence of the false belief that people with intellectual disabilities live a life of suffering.

You can read this monograph and the range of additional commentaries, link below.

In addition Tim Stainton has written Disability, vulnerability and assisted death: commentary on Tuffrey-Wijne, Curfs, Finlay and Hollins which builds on their paper which explores the way in which the Euthanasia programme in the Netherland is opening up to include people with autism and intellectual disabilities. Tim Stainton argues that the same process is likely to happen in Canada which has just authorised a Euthnasia and Assisted Dying (EAS) regime. He also explore how and why people with disabilities continue to be misrepresented as not having lives worth living and the negative role played by institutional services.

You can read Tim Stainton's paper, link below. 

The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.

Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities Vol 16, No 2 (June) © Wiley Blackwell 2019.

Disability, vulnerability and assisted death: commentary on Tuffrey-Wijne, Curfs, Finlay and Hollins in BMC Medical Ethics © Tim Stainton 2019.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.


Paper | 18.09.21

disability, health & healthcare, Inclusion, intellectual disabilities, Need for Roots, Canada, England, Paper

Tim Stainton


Co-Director of the Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship & joint coordinator of Citizen Network Canada

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