"A born writer, especially a born story-teller. Dr. Sutherland, who is distinguished in medicine, is an amateur in the sense that he only writes when he has nothing better to do. But when he does, it could hardly be done better." G.K. Chesterton.
Exterminating Poverty: The true story of the eugenic plan to get rid of the poor, and the Scottish doctor who fought against it is about Dr. Halliday Sutherland’s fight against the settled science of his era, eugenics.
To a contemporary reader, that may not sound terribly challenging. After all, who would be in favour of eugenics? The answer is some of the most eminent persons of his age: John Maynard Keynes, Bertrand Russell, Sir James Barr, Sir William Arbuthnot Lane, G.B. Shaw, H.G. Wells, Karl Pearson (Professor of Eugenics at University College, London), the Rt Hon George Roberts MP, the Lady Constance Lytton and Marie Stopes.
Three elements set the conflict in motion:
In 1921 a birth control clinic was opened in a poor part of London as part of a wider eugenic project to get rid of poverty by breeding out the poor. While the founder, Marie Stopes dispensed her “Prorace” (and later “Racial”) brand contraceptives to the poor women who wanted them, she campaigned and lobbied politicians for the compulsory sterilization of the poor women (and men) who did not.
Dr Halliday Sutherland attacked the clinic. He received a writ for libel from its founder, Dr Marie Stopes.