China Syndrome; March 1997; Scientific American Magazine; by Beardsley; 2 Page(s)
Eugenics produced some of the worst horrors of the century, so geneticists get jumpy when their expertise is used to coerce. Scientists are now trying to decide how to respond to a law that came into force in China in 1995 and seems unabashedly eugenic.
In most of the world, choosing to have a baby is a private matter for two people. The Chinese Law on Maternal and Infant Health Care, however, stipulates that if a married couple in childbearing years suffers from a genetic disease "of a serious nature," the couple "shall take measures in accordance with...medical advice." Other provisions make plain what measures might be appropriate. Couples with unspecified genetic diseases "considered to be inappropriate for childbearing" may be married only if both agree to practice long-term contraception or to be sterilized.