Article ID: CBB000831701

Artificial Insemination and Eugenics: Celibate Motherhood, Eutelegenesis and Germinal Choice (2008)


This paper traces the history of artificial insemination by selected donors (AID) as a strategy for positive eugenic improvement. While medical artificial insemination has a longer history, its use as a eugenic strategy was first mooted in late nineteenth-century France. It was then developed as `scientific motherhood' for war widows and those without partners by Marion Louisa Piddington in Australia following the Great War. By the 1930s AID was being more widely used clinically in Britain (and elsewhere) as a medical solution to male infertility for married couples. In 1935 English postal clerk, Herbert Brewer, promoted AID (eutelegenesis) as the socialization of the germ plasm in a eugenic scheme. The next year Hermann Muller, American Drosophila geneticist and eugenicist, presented his plan for human improvement by AID to Stalin. Some twenty years later, Muller, together with Robert Klark Graham, began planning a Foundation for Germinal Choice in California. This was finally opened in 1980 as the first practical experiment in eugenic AID, producing some 215 babies over the twenty years it functioned. While AID appeared to be a means of squaring a eugenic circle by separating paternity from love relationships, and so allowing eugenic improvement without inhibiting individual choice in marriage, it found very little favour with those who might use it, not least because of a couple's desire to have their `own' children has always seemed stronger than any eugenic aspirations. No state has ever contemplated using AID as a social policy.

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Article Hall, Lesley A. (2008) Eugenics, Sex and the State: Some Introductory Remarks. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (p. 177). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Benninghaus, Christina
Karl Bruno
Shirai, Chiaki
Sandra Bärnreuther
Hideki Yui
Tsuge, Azumi
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal
VIET: Voprosy Istorii Estestvoznaniia i Tekhniki
Slavic Review
Science and Education
History and Technology
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Oxford University Press
Cornell University Press
Harvard University
Artificial insemination
Reproductive technologies
Reproductive medicine
Mothers and children
Fertilization, in vitro
Müller, Hermann Joseph
Stalin, Joseph
Murphy, Emily
Ivanov, Il'ia Ivanovich
Gager, Charles Stuart
Burke, J. Butler
Time Periods
20th century, early
20th century
20th century, late
21st century
19th century
Soviet Union
Alberta, Canada
Weimar Republic (1919-1933)
Keio University

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