Involuntary soft sterilization for ‘unfit mothers’: Best interests of the child or latent eugenics? A historical comparative approach to the Dutch Law proposal and its legitimation

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Zumalacárregui Martínez, Mónica
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Due to the atrocities that resulted from the Nazi eugenic rhetoric, many states have been reluctant to implement policies that could be read as eugenics. However, the reality is that eugenic thought is still among us. In fact, with the advent of modern technologies, the ways in which the state influences women’s rights have become more subtle and sophisticated. We can no longer speak about forced sterilization in the terms that were used in the 19th and 20th centuries, but this study will show the alarming similarities between past rhetoric and current policies involving Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive methods (LARCs). In particular, this paper will analyze the Dutch proposal that has been submitted calling for forced contraception for unfit mothers, a measure that is supposed to safeguard the best interests of the child and prevent vulnerable parenthood. Furthermore, this paper will attempt to establish whether the proposal’s intentions are legitimate and its means valid, or whether it entails latent eugenics. The methodology used will consist of a historical and comparative approach of the eugenic practices of the 20th century and their evolution—particularly, in the USA—to highlight the worrying similarities between past and present attitudes and logics.
Second semester University: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
The Netherlands, children rights, motherhood, contraception, bioethics, genetics