A rational coalition



Title A rational coalition: euthanasia, eugenics, and birth control in America, 1940-1970
Author(s) Ian R. Dowbiggin
Journal Journal of Policy History
Date 2002
Volume 14
Issue 3
Start page 223
End page 260
Abstract The activities of the Euthanasia Society of America (ESA) and the Association for Voluntary Sterilization (AVS) during the 1940's-60's suggest that historians should consider birth control, eugenic sterilization, and euthanasia as closely linked elements in the American liberal tradition of this period, rather than as separate narratives. The considerable influence of these groups was based on two prominent concerns: one was a new and growing confidence in the ability of medical science to prevent disease, understand and manipulate hereditary traits, and control reproduction, and the other was a belief that the Catholic Church, with its opposition to birth control and medical interference in natural reproduction and life cycle matters, posed a threat to American democracy, national unity, and personal freedom. Cultural changes in the 1960's made some of the positions espoused by these groups, especially in the field of eugenics, appear extreme. Concern over Catholicism waned in the 1960's, and the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade shifted the focus of the reproduction debate.
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