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Eugenics

Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource.ca and The Famous Five Foundation
 
         

 

Like many educated people of her time, Emily Murphy believed that science held the answers to most problems. Scientific knowledge had undergone great advances, and many people looked to science to provide answers for social problems. During the early 20th century, many prominent social leaders believed that social problems, such as alcohol and drug abuse and crime, were the result of "mental deficiency."

In the 1932 article, "Overpopulation and Birth Control," Murphy identifies "over-population" as "basic problem of all," and claims that "none of our troubles can even be allayed until this is remedied."

A common theme of the time was that of the "yellow peril." China was the most populated country in the world, and some people feared that if British people started having fewer children, eventually China would rule. The large volume of Chinese immigrants entering Canada compounded these fears. Murphy takes on these "social alarmists" who were "wont to alarm us with what they are pleased to call 'the yellow peril,' just as is a deeper pigment of the skin precluded the Chinese, Hindus and Japanese from the benefits of civic rights and the Christian religion."

As the world built up to fight another war, Murphy, as a pacifist, felt that only when populations ceased to grow, and nations stopped needing more land for their population, then war would cease.

Although she objected to the claims of those who linked birth control with "race suicide," Murphy did believe that there was such a thing. It happened when the poor and mentally and socially inferior reproduced at a much faster rate than what she deemed the "human thoroughbreds." In order to prevent what many at the time believed to be disaster, Murphy supported the practice of eugenics, or "selective breeding."

 
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