64 Trans. Cornman
result of a given marriage, but some physicians and most students of eugenics can tell about what the chances are of this or that kind of child being born. To exact a bond which secures a given county against the cost of supporting a blind child is nothing more than a form of insurance. Every county insures its public buildings and schools against loss by fire. It insures it financial clerks against defalcation, even its automobiles against accidents. Is it not sensible also to insure itself in a given case against a loss of $10,000 to $12,000 or $14,000 necessary to support and educate say one child whose parents may not be able later to pay for it? Why should that expense be saddled on the taxpayers without asking them or against their will?
Finally, the law must be in legal form, preferably prepared by a lawyer, not by doctors. I have here a sample. In some States the law can be comparatively simple. In New York, for example, there is already a law which provides that each applicant for a marriage contract must declare that he or she has not any loathsome disease. With such a law already existing, it is comparatively easy to introduce and pass an amendment which would require each one of the contracting parties also to declare that they have not had any relatives within, for example, the second degree in relationship who suffered from blindness.
Finally, after the law has been presented, fought over, and defeated a number of times, as is usual, and then finally adopted, the real work is just beginning. Physicians and geneticists must unite in their efforts to make it a reality.
I heard old Dr. MacGrady, formerly a professor at the Physicians and Surgeons in New York, say that his records showed that he had advised certain young people with tendencies to tuberculosis not to marry with those who had similar dangerous tendencies in 59 instances. But his case records also showed that, in 59 instances, these young people went straight to the altar.
It is not only true that love is blind but it may lead to blindness. The thing to do is to begin the education of those who are well. No opportunity should be lost to state the facts to teachers, especially teachers of Sunday schools, and intelligent groups of those who mold the thoughts and actions of a community. Whenever the physician is invited to speak from a pulpit, as occasionally happens, he should not fail to embrace the opportunity to speak English instead of platitudes, and even well-known facts, however stale, will pass for eloquence. He should wake up the congregation. If possible, single out some political boss. In a figurative sense take him by the ear, lead him to the legislator with whom he works in unity, and have them see how philanthropy can be made to accord with lower taxes and therefore more votes.
These, it seems to me, are the obligations which even some knowledge of genetics places on our shoulders. We must work not only in the laboratory but for the people and with the people.
American Anthropological Society
June 15th, 1926