Full text: Problems in eugenics

388Section IV.A. Blui-im. 
single individuals of its own generation. This science has hardly concerned 
itself at all with the well-being of future generations; on the contrary, it is 
bringing to these future generations many evils by its protection of those- 
people who are at present physically or mentally unsound. 
If we define Eugenics as “ the study of agencies under social control that 
may (improve or) impair the racial qualities of future generations,” the 
science of medicine surely takes an important place among the subjects to 
be studied, and among the branches of therapeutics it is Obstetrics 
through which especial dangers threaten the race. 
Permit me, therefore, to speak a few words to-day on the relation 
between Obstetrics and Eugenics. 
One of the leading spirits of the German Eugenics movement, Dr. 
Wilhelm Schallmayer, more than 20 years ago, uttered the following words, 
“ The more successfully Obstetrics develops, the more necessary will it be­ 
come for future generations. ” 
In other words, Obstetrics increases the inability to bear children, and so 
threatens the continuance of the race. 
Let us inquire whether this saying holds good, and how we can escape 
from the dilemma. 
You all know the Bible saying : “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow 
and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.” The same 
feeling which, almost 3,000 years ago, caused the author of Genesis to 
regard the pains of childbirth as a divine curse—a punishment for broken 
laws—rules us to-day, namely, the feeling that this pain is unnatural. 
It appears to us a matter of course when travellers inform us of the 
easy, painless labour of the so-called primitive races. Doubtless this in­ 
formation must be received with reservations, since it is founded only to a 
small extent on their own direct observations and mostly on “ hearsay ” ; 
and the statement that among primitive peoples childbirth brings no kind of 
troubles must be decidedly modified. At the same time, it may be said that 
the ability for bearing children among the civilised races, as compared with 
that of the primitive peoples, is pathologically altered. 
How has this alteration—this degeneration—come about? 
According to the quotation from Genesis, painful labour must have been 
common among the Jews about the year 850 b.c. It is true that the Jews 
had, at that time, already attained to a relatively high state of culture, 
but according to the information of different authors, they possessed only a 
rather inadequate knowledge of midwifery. 
There can, therefore, have been no question among them of any 
weakening of the power of delivery, through artificial assistance, and of the 
consequent frequent transmission of a decreased ability to bear. 
That, among the causes of more difficult labour among civilized races, 
other factors have a place is shown by information about the births in the 
different ranks of society in China. There the help in confinements is still
	        

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