Full text: papers communicated to the first International Eugenics Congress held at the University of London, July 24th to 30th, 1912

394Section IV.A. Bluhm. 
Since Obstetrics, as we said, favours the spread of rickets, it would in 
this way also lend assistance to the origin of mental diseases, but we 
should require closer observations than those hitherto obtained to prove 
indisputably the foregoing conclusions. 
We come now to the question : How can we prevent Obstetrics from 
bringing injury to the race constantly, and in ever-increasing degree ? 
From the point of view of common humanity, it is altogether out of the 
question that we should ever set bounds to the further spread of Obstetrics. 
The idea that women who are incapable of natural delivery must perish 
miserably for want of medical assistance is insulting to our dignity as 
human beings. 
We must, therefore, think of other means in order to obviate the dangers 
which are growing for the race from the increase of the science of Obstetrics. 
The best would, of course, be that women who are unfitted for bearing 
should, from the very beginning, renounce the idea of descendants. 
This already takes place in isolated cases—it appears to me doubtful 
that it will ever be attained to in any great degree. It would only be pos­ 
sible if we possessed legal limitations of marriage with this in view. 
It would then have to be taken into consideration that unfitness to bear 
is already so widespread, that individual nations would suffer from such a 
comprehensive exclusion, an important numerical loss, which could only be 
compensated for by women fit to bear bringing more children into the 
world. The following methods appear to me more adapted to the present time : 
As we said, it is mostly not the abnormality of the “ bearing apparatus,” 
but only the predisposition which is transmitted—increased injury must come 
from outside sources to develop this predisposition into abnormality. 
We must, therefore, occupy ourselves with the prevention of this develop­ 
ment. How far this is possible with reference to an unfavourable condition 
of the muscular system cannot be answered with certainty to-day—a sensible 
mode of life might have a certain amount of effect. 
At any rate we can (and this seems to me to be of special importance 
in the case) prevent to a great degree a predisposition to rickets from 
developing into really bad rickets with deformities of the pelvis. 
Breast-feeding and sunny, airy dwellings can here do much. 
At the same time, it must not be forgotten that if we succeed in this 
way in preventing the daughter of a woman inadapted to bear children from 
herself becoming inadapted, that does not, of itself, denote an improvement 
in the race. 
In the germ cells of this daughter the disposition to rickets probably 
exists as strongly as in those of her mother, and her children run the risk of 
becoming as much affected by rickets as their grandmother.
        

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