Resurrecting Eugenics: Should Only Healthy Children be Born?

A talk given by bioethicist Dr. Calum MacKellar, director of research for the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics in Edinburgh.

On Thursday afternoon, Feb 10th, 2022, Dr. Calum MacKellar delivered a presentation for the Asbury University Human Dignity Lecture series entitled, Resurrecting Eugenics: Should Only Healthy Children be Born? (Please see the full video of Dr. MacKellar’s talk to the right. The password “4kh3k4m3a3MC” is required to access the video.)

Dr. MacKellar’s presentation, which is easily accessible to the non-scientist, started with some basic definitions and a brief historical review of eugenics, including a recounting of significant events which occurred in the United States as well as Nazi Germany.

MacKellar then begins to address the various forms the eugenics movement takes in contemporary social life. He begins with an analysis of how eugenical concerns could be found in the various decisions people make regarding marriage and parenthood. This is followed by an exploration into various current medical procedures and their ethical implications. At this point, Dr. MacKellar brings the Christian idea of the Imago-Dei into the discussion. He then continues to dive deeper into the ethical challenges that eugenical thinking and practice present. One particular issue addressed is the moral distinction between post-conception therapy and pre-conception selection.

Finally, Dr. MacKellar leaves the listener with some dire predictions about the future directions of eugenic efforts as well as a challenge for Christians to give serious contemplation to what is at stake in the face of the social, political, and biological rationale that would suggest we have the right to choose what kind of people should and should not exist. The choices we make reflect the value we give to people who currently have those features.

After the presentation and a brief question and answer period, the honors students were given special access to Dr. MacKellar at a fireside chat in Windsor Manor, Asbury’s recently constructed guest house (see this overview of the guest house: For over an hour, the AUHP students interacted with MacKellar and explored numerous topics.

AUHP director Dr. Paul Nesselroade was able to interview Dr. MacKellar regarding his work. Look for the transcript of that interview to be posted soon.

Dr. MacKellar speaks to a packed room