Separating Sex from Reproduction, the School, and the State

From Gordon Rattray Taylor’s The Biological Time Bomb (1968) pgs 179-180.  This book was cited by the Majority in Roe vs. Wade.  Separating ‘sex from reproduction’ is an enduring goal of eugenics, most vividly portrayed in Huxley’s The Brave New World.  While the ‘school and the state’ have always been considered tools in the hands of the social planners, Taylor’s open admission to this fact, and the implications, is relatively rare.  Consider sentiments such as the ones below the next time you look at the curriculum for ‘sex education’ in public schools.   Gay marriage would certainly seem to be the kind of thing that Dr. Morison, quoted by Taylor, had in mind:

… it is difficult to see why the sterilized individuals should be held to monogamy, or even why those adjudged unsuitable to rear children should trouble to maintain any domestic life at all.  The family is already being eroded by the intervention of school and state, and this might be its coup de grace.

As Dr. Robert S. Morison of Cornell puts it: ‘Once sex and reproduction are separated, society will have to struggle with … defining the nature of interpersonal relationships which have no long-term social point … [and] seek new ways to ensure reasonable care for infants and children in an emotional atmosphere which lacks biological reinforcement. …’ The language is a bit abstract, but the point is a strong one.

But the fact is, people are very much committed to the maintenance of the family, which remains an important source of emotional rewards and of security.  They are unlikely to give voting approval for any plan which threatens to demolish it.  As Kingsley Davis says, ‘An effective system of eugenic control would involve profound changes in the very web of relations that organizes and expresses the personal lives of moderns.  It would overthrow the existing system of rewards and punishments, the present interpretations of reality, the familiar links between the person and social status.’ And he concludes, as I do, that the introduction of genetic control in the near future, though theoretically possible, is unlikely.

But that is not the whole story.  We are faced, as a result of medical progress, with a population explosion the violence of which is still not generally understood.  Many believe that new scientific methods of agriculture, including sea-farming and the conversion of inorganic substances like petroleum to protein, will suffice to feed the additional mouths.  But even if we leave aside the social consequences of an excessive population density, and the frustrations and disturbances of body-chemistry which result, it is clear that the projected populations cannot be fed.  In mid-1967 President Johnson received reports showing that world-wide famines are inevitable before food production can possibly catch up.  The question, therefore, of regulating the right to reproduce is certain to arise, quite apart from eugenic considerations.


Meanwhile, we have eliminated many of the forces which selected the strong from the weak, and we are coasting on the genetic selection of the past.

It is virtually certain that this total failure to face the biological realities created by our own scientific advances will cause such disaster that there will be a sudden reversal of policy.  And once the right to bear children comes under regulation, the use of those powers to improve the genetic stock rather than to degrade it could follow relatively easily. […] In short, it must be concluded that, sooner or later, genetic regulation will be adopted.

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