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Global PopulationHistory, Geopolitics, and Life on Earth$
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Alison Bashford

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231147668

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231147668.001.0001

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Universal Rights?

Universal Rights?

Population Control and the Powers of Reproductive Freedom

(p.328) 12 Universal Rights?
Global Population

Alison Bashford

Columbia University Press

This chapter explores the reproductive politics of postwar eugenics and overpopulation concerns, as well as that of a reproductive “freedom” that eventually transcended to a “human right.” Reproductive freedom here is characterized by persuasion rather than force (“Babies by choice and not by chance”)—it is the liberty accorded to all individuals to make an informed decision in the shaping of their own lives and those of their families. Postwar eugenics is often treated as the antithesis of this freedom, as it had been characterized by more coercive tactics such as those employed in Nazi Germany, with similarly illicit eugenics activities being presumed hidden under an innocuous veneer of “population control” in more recent times. The truth, however, is that postwar eugenics remains an open and explicit movement, its discourse inextricable from that of reproductive freedom.

Keywords:   population control, reproductive politics, postwar eugenics, overpopulation, reproductive freedom

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