Quest for perfection: the drive to breed better human beings

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Scribner, 1996 - Health & Fitness - 335 pages
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In Quest for Perfection, Gina Maranto traces the history of society's attempts to control human destiny by regulating birth outcomes. Drawing together material from the fields of animal behavior, paleontology, anthropology, embryology, genetics, and reproductive medicine, Maranto provides a riveting account of how the perfecting impulse has colored Western social and political thought and history. More importantly, she explores how the development of birth technologies, from artificial insemination in the 1800s to in vitro fertilization in the 1970s, was carried out by scientists who foresaw - and in many cases championed - the eugenical potential of manipulating sperm, eggs, and embryos. Maranto reveals that eugenics, rightly reviled for the crimes committed in its name in Nazi Germany and elsewhere, is far from a dead enterprise. Today, in treating couples for infertility, medicine has edged closer than ever to the made-to-order baby. With the knowledge gained from the massive worldwide effort to map the human chromosome, the Human Genome Project, scientists will gain greater power to dictate the essential makeup of future children. Promoted on therapeutic grounds, the enterprise of assisted reproduction has raised exhilarating and frightening prospects: from infants born without debilitating defects and inherited diseases to the likelihood that individuals and governments will decide which embryos are worthy of being brought to term based not on the sanctity of life but upon parental whim or societal fiat. Quest for Perfection is an important contribution to the debate over the ethical and political implications of attempts to direct our own evolution.

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Quest for perfection: the drive to breed better human beings

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Many recent publications have examined the ethics and issues surrounding assisted reproduction. This book also provides a lengthy account of the history of humankind's attitudes toward reproduction ... Read full review


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They Kill Their Young

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About the author (1996)

Maranto has been writing about science for 20 years and has won the National Association of Science Writers Science-in-Society Award.

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