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Contested ReproductionGenetic Technologies, Religion, and Public Debate$
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John H. Evans

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226222653

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226222707.001.0001

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The History of Abortion, Reproductive Genetic Technologies, and the Contemporary Public's Views

The History of Abortion, Reproductive Genetic Technologies, and the Contemporary Public's Views

(p.37) Chapter Two The History of Abortion, Reproductive Genetic Technologies, and the Contemporary Public's Views
Contested Reproduction

John H. Evans

University of Chicago Press

This chapter delves deeply into the history of reproductive genetic technologies (RGTs) and into the history of the abortion debate. Examining RGTs from “the beginning” to the present reveals two clear trends. The first is increasing precision. The second trend is that in the past people who were not going to be parents before, now are trying to determine the genetic qualities of their children. The ancient Greeks thought that babies were the result of the “coagulation” of sperm and menstrual fluid, and both transmitted characteristics because both contained the “seed” contributed by all parts of the body that blended to produce the baby. Through careful experimentation, the concepts of dominant and recessive traits were discovered and the plant received one “chromosome” from each parent. Reform eugenicists believed that there were valuable characteristics across all classes and racial groups. The American eugenics movement was seen as a progressive social reform movement, as a way to solve “scientifically” social problems. Geneticists had made great strides in understanding the probabilities that children would inherit single-gene recessive diseases. Scientists have found that stem cells from embryos could potentially cure various diseases by being turned into useful tissues. The demonstration of the conclusions that different people reach about these technologies is only the first step toward understanding opposition to RGTs and the effectiveness of a future debate.

Keywords:   reproductive genetic technologies, eugenicists, genetic qualities, embryos, recessive diseases

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