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Catholic Dictionary




The science of hereditary and environmental influences in order to improve the physical and mental qualities of future generations. As a term, it was first used by Francis Galton (1822-1911), cousin of Charles Darwin (1809-82). There are, in general, two types of eugenics. An extreme form advocates the compulsory breeding of the select, contraception among the poor, and sterilization and euthanasia for the unfit. Moderate eugenics promotes the study of how to reduce the number of mentally and physically handicapped without resorting to coercive measures. The Catholic Church strongly supports the idea that people have a right to use suitable, licit means to improve their own physical and mental condition and that of their children. but the Church condemns eugenicists who, in their narrow outlook, exalt eugenics as the supreme good and who, therefore, use illicit means to promote their goal. Eugenics has contributed substantially to the practice of contraception, sterilization, abortion, and euthanasia. (Etym. Greek eugen_s, well born.)