Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Bad Blood: Diabetes and the Eugenics Movement

Presenter Information

Hope Eggett, Utah State University

Class

Article

College

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

When insulin was invented in 1921, it allowed type 1 diabetics to survive past childhood for the first time, and along with that, marry and have children. However, this was also the height of the eugenics movement in the United States. While the eugenics movement has typically been studied by focusing on race, intellectual disabilities, and the state, my research answers the key question of how the eugenics movement dealt with the reproduction of diabetics. This case study on diabetes sheds light on how eugenicists saw people with chronic illnesses more generally. Theoretically, eugenicists' goals focused on the health of future children. By analyzing their discussions of diabetes, it exposes to what degree race and intellectual disability were the focus of the eugenics movement as compared to illness and disease. This research uses textbooks and eugenicist publications between 1920 and 1940 to analyze to what extent eugenicists advocated for reproductive controls on diabetics. Finally, this research will examine the legacy of the eugenics movement on diabetes care following World War II. The impacts of the eugenics movement over the last century have important implications in healthcare decisions today.

Start Date

4-8-2020 1:00 PM

End Date

4-8-2020 2:00 PM

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Apr 8th, 1:00 PM Apr 8th, 2:00 PM

Bad Blood: Diabetes and the Eugenics Movement

When insulin was invented in 1921, it allowed type 1 diabetics to survive past childhood for the first time, and along with that, marry and have children. However, this was also the height of the eugenics movement in the United States. While the eugenics movement has typically been studied by focusing on race, intellectual disabilities, and the state, my research answers the key question of how the eugenics movement dealt with the reproduction of diabetics. This case study on diabetes sheds light on how eugenicists saw people with chronic illnesses more generally. Theoretically, eugenicists' goals focused on the health of future children. By analyzing their discussions of diabetes, it exposes to what degree race and intellectual disability were the focus of the eugenics movement as compared to illness and disease. This research uses textbooks and eugenicist publications between 1920 and 1940 to analyze to what extent eugenicists advocated for reproductive controls on diabetics. Finally, this research will examine the legacy of the eugenics movement on diabetes care following World War II. The impacts of the eugenics movement over the last century have important implications in healthcare decisions today.