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LaBruzzo's bone-headed eugenics plan: Coerced sterilization

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Eugenics Society LogoIssues related to human life and dignity usually attract attention from only one end of the political spectrum. If it relates to the unborn, the attention usually comes from the right; if it relates to undesirable adults, the attention usually comes from the left.

Republican Louisiana state representative John LaBruzzo has succeeded in the rare accomplishment of uniting the pro-life right and the progressive left — against him. This united front is a response to his proposal to pay poor women $1000 to undergo a tubal ligation. (Make no mistake — though he does not advocate physically forcing sterilization, this plan definitely constitutes a form of coercion.)

Coerced sterilization is a gravely disturbed idea, though not a new one. Commenters from all over the political spectrum have described it as eugenics. New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes called it "blatantly anti-life" while decrying the "bigotry of low expectations" experienced by the poor. The liberal blog Think Progress took a measured approach, letting LaBruzzo's ideas speak for themselves. An editorial in the New Orleans Times-Picayune noted that "[t]he state has no business assigning a sliding scale to the value of human lives, but that's exactly what Rep. LaBruzzo is suggesting. "

In a hostile interview with CNN, LaBruzzo whined that the media are focusing only on this aspect of his plan because of "ratings." It does not seem to occur to him that the focus actually results from the wrong-headedness and evil of these ideas; in fact, he dismisses that idea out of hand, grumping, "If dealing with generational welfare is a bone-headed idea, then I guess I'm bone-headed."

LaBruzzo is not just manifestly bone-headed, but also unoriginal. Eugenics became popular in the United States a century ago, with compulsory sterilizations for undesirables such as the poor and especially the mentally ill. American eugenics also advocated encouraging the well-to-do to "breed," another idea floated by LaBruzzo. The eugenics movement came to a halt when Nazi Germany provided a demonstration of where the slippery slope leads. LaBruzzo should devote his time and attention to studying history instead of brainstorming elitist, inhumane ideas.

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