Leon Menzies Racionzer on a seminal history of eugenics that reads like a thriller
By Their Fruits
BY ANN FARMER CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA PRESS, £58
Ann Farmer’s controversial book, By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign is an alarming revelation for those less well informed of the real motivation behind the abortion campaign. In a thoroughly researched and painstakingly documented work she traces the progress of eugenics and population control from its earliest modern proponent, Thomas Malthus, writing at the end of the 18th century, to its continued covert manipulation of the legislature right up to today’s controversy over proposed amendments to the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.
This campaign, led by a nucleus of politicians and others of influence to manage the economies of the world by controlling the breeding habits of the poor and non-white and eradicating the disabled, is not something Farmer has imagined. The evidence she provides of the Machiavellian activities of the Eugenics Society by reference to a vast range of primary and secondary sources leaves the reader in no doubt as to the authenticity of her claims.
If pro-abortionists could be persuaded to read this book they would likely realise that their often altruistic efforts are founded on the false premise that the Abortion Act arose from the feminist movement’s attempt to eliminate an exaggerated number of back-street abortions. The pro-abortion movement is continuously refuelled by this myth. On the contrary, the founding members of the suffragette/feminist movement campaigned for the welfare of poor mothers while condemning demands for legalised abortion. The attitude of the feminist movement was diametrically opposed to the attitude of the upper-class members of the Eugenics Society, which was trying to raise its ugly head long before the feminist move ment existed. The eugenicists saw the poor, infirm and non-white as a burden to society and feared their excessive breeding habits might demographically alter society to such an extent that they and their like might be overrun by an inferior sub-class best eradicated – Nazism in a less overt form.
But the eugenicist successes in birth control, and the desire to reduce the size of poorer families, are significant contributors to an ageing population and a reduced workforce from which such economic ills as the pensions gap arise.
Farmer, well-known for her outspokenness in the Labour Life Group, characteristically pulls no punches in her bold disclosures of the underhand activities of the Eugenics Society, which uses well-meaning people to further its own ends. She produces facts and figures to prove all of her accusations, from the manipulation of natural miscarriages to give the impression that illegal abortion was rife, to under-thetable subsidies for the voluntary sterilisation movement.
At times one could be carried away reading this book as if it were a thriller. One has to continually remind oneself that the proof texts are there to authenticate such deviances as the use of a vast number of letters to the press under pseudonyms to allay opposition to Steel’s Abortion Bill, to the manipulation of by-elections by attempting to persuade local party offi cials not to put up Norman St John-Stevas, a strong opponent of the Bill, as a candidate.
The impression that the eugenicists would wish to convey to the legislature of family life among the poor in the 19th and early 20th century, where women are seen as weak and oppressed in the home, is brilliantly contradicted by an account of the economic advantages of large families.
Farmer is herself the product of working-class families which, in an appendix, she traces back to Victorian times to emphasise that, far from the wife and mother being a weak, oppressed sex slave with multiple unwanted pregnancies, she was the stabilising force in the family.
Here we have a prophetic view, perhaps an obvious one: that the introduction of the Abortion Act, Assisted Dying, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and other campaigns, combined with continuing negative attitudes to the poor and disabled, will lead to medical science becoming more concerned with the eradication of defective genes than the search for cures or making sufferers more comfortable.
While this is undoubtedly a seminal academic work, it is not a difficult book for the non-academic to read and understand and it ought to be read by all who take an interest in socio-political affairs and particularly in the future well-being of mankind.