The Dysgenic State: Environmental Injustice and Disability-Selective Abortion Bans

Disability-selective abortion bans are laws that prohibit individuals from terminating a pregnancy because the fetus has been diagnosed with a health impairment. Many environmental toxins—to which low-income people and people of color disproportionately are exposed—are known to cause impairments in fetuses. When the fact of environmental injustice is read together with disability-selective abortion bans, we see that in one moment, the state fails to protect its citizens from toxins that impair fetal health, while in another moment, that same government compels its citizens to give birth to health-impaired fetuses. This Article identifies these two moments as the dysgenic state. Whereas the eugenic state of the early twentieth century sought to remove impairments from the population, the dysgenic state of the early twenty-first century seems committed to producing an impaired citizenry.