The Legacy of Eugenics in Contemporary Law

  • Pin Lean Lau


This chapter introduces the philosophical foundations of eugenics as a starting point, because this supports the reasoning that proposes a form or regulatory or governance framework for pre-implantation genetic interventions. Through a historical exploration of the laws of human inheritability of conditions, and the rise of national eugenic policies, the premise made here is that a wholesale free-for-all use of emerging biomedical technologies, particularly where those technologies involve possibilities to intervene into the human genome, may be interpreted to result in eugenic consequences though a process of selection, and also impacts the operability of contemporary laws. Even if the principle of autonomy is respected, as it is in the case of a new form of “liberal eugenics”, I provide three main reasons why this concept is flawed, and why a more meaningful capitulation of the effects of genetic interventions particularly in the scope of human reproduction must be very carefully evaluated. Instead, I advance the call for a reinterpretation of eugenics in light of embryo selection in biomedical and reproductive technologies; founded upon limits that do not encroach on another individual’s rights and liberties.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Pin Lean Lau
    • 1
  1. 1.Central European UniversityBudapestHungary

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