|Eugenics for Alleviating Human Suffering
Beginning in 1962, about four years after Pauling's initial statements on genetic
counseling, he promoted his first eugenics agenda. It was straightforward and got
attention. His ultimate goal was to decrease human suffering by eliminating the factors
that caused it; to this end, Pauling stated that molecular diseases, like sickle cell
anemia, warranted legal intervention. He suggested two criteria. First, a law should
require testing for sickle cell hemoglobin in African-Americans. Secondly, in an effort
to eliminate sickle cell hemoglobin from the human population, marriage and procreation
restrictions should be invoked. Accordingly, if one heterozygote and one homozygous
dominant (i.e. a person with normal hemoglobin) marry, then there should be a limit
on how many children they can have. If two heterozygotes marry then they should not
be allowed to have children because there is a twenty-five percent chance that they
will have a baby with sickle cell anemia. Coupling chance with concern for human suffering,
Pauling advocated intervention from authorities: "This percentage [25%] is much too
high to let private enterprise in love combined with ignorance take care of the matter."
In addition to outlining the laws that he thought should be put into effect for carriers
of sickle cell anemia, Pauling stated that similar rules should be invoked for carriers
of hereditary molecular diseases, including phenylketonuria, and fibrocystic disease.
By 1968, Pauling got more radical and advocated two new tactics to reduce suffering
from sickle cell hemoglobin: forehead tattoos and abortion. According to Pauling,
carriers should have an obvious mark, (i.e. a tattoo on the forehead) denoting their
disease, which would allow carriers to identify others with the same affliction and
avoid marrying them. Additionally, Pauling suggested that two heterozygous parents
should consider abortion as a preventative method because the amount of suffering
caused by abortions is significantly less than that suffered by a child with a hereditary
disease. It should be noted that Pauling never supported sterilization, castration,
or killing of inferior human beings.
Although Pauling's ideas were radical for the time, others held similar views. Nobelist
Sir Peter Medawar encouraged legal intervention and discouraged procreation among
people with hereditary diseases by stating, "It is humbug to say that such a policy
violates an elementary right of human beings. No one has conferred upon human beings
the right knowingly to bring maimed or biochemically crippled children into the world."