The black stork : eugenics and the death of "defective" babies in American medicine and motion pictures since 1915 / Martin S. Pernick.
- New York : Oxford University Press, 1996.
xv, 295 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
- Black stork (Motion picture)
Newborn infants -- Diseases -- Treatment -- Moral and ethical aspects.
Eugenics in motion pictures.
Abnormalities, Human -- Treatment -- Moral and ethical aspects.
Euthanasia -- Moral and ethical aspects.
Eugenics -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
Infanticide -- Moral and ethical aspects.
- In the late 1910s Dr. Harry J. Haiselden, a prominent Chicago surgeon, electrified the nation by allowing the deaths of at least six infants he diagnosed as "defectives." Seeking to publicize his efforts to eliminate the "unfit," he displayed the dying infants to journalists, wrote about them for the Hearst newspapers, and starred in a feature film about his crusade. Prominent Americans from Clarence Darrow to Helen Keller rallied to his support.
The Black Stork tells this startling story, based on newly-rediscovered sources and long-lost motion pictures, in order to illuminate many broader controversies. The book shows how efforts to improve human heredity (eugenics) became linked with mercy-killing (euthanasia) and with race, class, gender, and ethnic hatreds. It documents how mass culture changed the meaning of medical concepts like "heredity" and "disease," and how medical controversies helped shape the commercial mass media. It demonstrates how cultural values influence science, and how scientific claims of objectivity have shaped modern culture. While focused on the formative years of early 20th century America, The Black Stork traces these issues from antiquity to the rise of Nazism, and to the "Baby Doe," assisted suicide, and human genome initiative debates of today
- 1. The Birth of a Controversy. The Public Death of Baby Bollinger. Debates and Investigations. The Doctor and the Parents. Haiselden and History. A Word about Words
2. Contexts to the Conflict. Before Baby Bollinger: Infanticide, Eugenics, and Euthanasia. U.S.A., 1915. Taking Sides: Some Rough Images of the Debate
3. Identifying the Unfit: Biology and Culture in the Construction of Hereditary Disease. Heredity, Environment, and the Scope of Eugenics: Scientific Conceptions to 1915. Heredity, Environment, and the Scope of Eugenics: Haiselden and Mass Cultural Meanings. Constructing the Socially Defective Crime, Race, and Class. Defects and Desires: Eugenics, Aesthetics, and Sex. Elite Priorities and Mass Culture: Physical and Mental Defects. Degrees of Difference: Normality or Perfection? Opposing Expansive Concepts of Hereditary Defect: Equal Worth or Entering Wedge? Fitness and Objectivity
4. Eliminating the Unfit: Euthanasia and Eugenics. From Prevention to Death.
- Includes bibliographical references (pages 251-280) and indexes.
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