The state in question exists in a pre-industrial world, which is separated from a parallel reality called The Warp by a thin barrier. This barrier protects the world from the denizens of The Warp and its corrupting influence. The Warp exists everywhere, in people's homes, where they work, etc. In certain parts of the world, the barrier has significantly weakened or fallen completely, allowing The Warp to seep into reality.

The Warp's influence corrupts everything it touches. It mutates animals, plants, humans, and entire areas. Prolonged exposure to its influence is detrimental. The inflicted become more aggressive and hostile, and serve as a continuing danger to others. Giant beasts, man eating plants, and places that defy the laws of physics are present in areas where the warp is most prevalent. It also extends itself to human society. Some children are born deformed due to The Warp's influence, and can be hereditary. These deformities range from physical to mental defects and are very obvious to onlookers. These warp touched individuals are referred to as the tainted. These individuals are not always dangerous, as their afflictions could just be physical rather than mental.

A culture developed in this state that emphasize's genetic purity. Fertile women, who produce strong, healthy children, are highly valued and considered sacred. A woman's biology is under her control. She can choose when to get pregnant and can slow down or pause the rate of gestation. Deformed babies who do not pass inspection (extra limbs, scaly skin, etc) are euthanized at birth.

What justifications can a state provide its people that would rationalize this social policy? What methods can it use to reinforce it in society ?

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Do a bit of historical research. The Spartans did exactly that. $\endgroup$ Commented May 12, 2017 at 18:48
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Spartans, Ancient Greek in general, Norse, Nazis. They all rejected deformed children to at least some extent. $\endgroup$
    – Mormacil
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 19:42
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ hyper aggressive evil warped things seems like a good justification in and of itself. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ It was common and still is in some communities. Not euthanasia but simple exposure to the elements or wildlife. Where the tribe is scraping a living, they simply can't afford to spend resources on those unable to work. In China, daughters were killed because everyone thought they needed sons. Some Native American tribes would abandon old and weak folks on the trail so they wouldn't be a burden. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 21:33

6 Answers 6


You could do worse than to take your justifications for a pure and rational state from Plato's Republic.

The proper officers will take the offspring of the good parents to the pen or fold, and there they will deposit them with certain nurses who dwell in a separate quarter; but the offspring of the inferior, or of the better when they chance to be deformed, will be put away in some mysterious, unknown place, as they should be.

Yes, he said, that must be done if the breed of the guardians is to be kept pure.

The Republic has lots of other ideas on setting up a state, many of them excellent.

The Nazis also were very efficient at setting up a state and part of their endeavor (predating the execution of the Jews) was a euthanasia program of defective babies and children, based on cost effective use of limited state funds and ensuring genetic purity.

enter image description here
From Wikipedia. "60,000 Reichsmark is what this person suffering from a hereditary defect costs the People's community during his lifetime."

Euthanasia of malformed newborns was and is pretty widespread. Economics favor it if resources are limited. The Nazis used this justification and that of genetic purity. In your circumstance it would be very plausible that these deformed ones have been tainted by the Warp and will grow to be a threat to their classmates.


What justifications can a state provide its people that would rationalize this social policy? What methods can it use to reinforce it in society ?

This seems strange to you, I guess, because it's unthinkable in the modern era. But as other posters have pointed out, it's something that has precedent in the past.

It's actually stranger not to kill the deformed at birth culturally--at least in ancient history.

As to justification, you've already provided that more strongly than it's seen in the real world, by giving the deformities the ability to actually be a DANGER.

REAL WORLD JUSTIFICATION 1: Possible inability to work and a drain on resources. In normal circumstances, killing deformed babies was common practice in ye olde times, because resources were scarcer and the ability to work was valued. A baby that merely had a club foot might be considered for euthanasia. Anything more serious could result in death for the child.

REAL WORLD STUMBLING BLOCK 1: Heir and a spare. Solution below.

That didn't mean that some deformed children were not allowed to live. But this depended often on social strata. For example, wealthier families might indulge, especially if they were desperate to produce an heir. It was always good to keep around a spare kid even if you'd already had some, just to pass things down, because disease could take them all. However, you could definitely help to make sure your nobles DON'T do this, by having some sort of inspection of their body before the crown/title is passed on when they are an adult. (Or have a certification done at birth.)

REAL WORLD JUSTIFICATION 2: Purity & pride. It's already been pointed out here that many societies, from the Spartans to the Nazis have used this as a reason.

REAL WORLD STUMBLING BLOCK 2: Hiding deformities. I know you said these deformities are obvious, but that doesn't have to be true and even so, in the real world people found lots of creative ways to hide deformities, if they could. In your world, you have the inspection at birth. Midwives would have to be above reproach, and the penalties for hiding that a child has a deformity might be death, or at the very least, social humiliation, and being stripped of their midwife license. If a kid has say, one scale--maybe that will fall off later? Or it could be removed by a discreet doctor?

I'd say there should be a certification that a kid gets at birth--a tiny defect like a small patch of scales and such might be watched, and they would not get certified pure, which means that they are not allowed to get married and have children. (Of course, this will result in common law marriages, and it will often be between the tainted, which may result in communities apart, which may occasionally be burned to the ground because the people there are blamed for whatever).

Whether a set up like this is allowed is going to depend on how many babies are born with some level of deformity. If you have a high birthrate, and a really low percentage of deformity, then killing them all, even if it's cosmetic and easily hidden, should be possible, if the consequences are dire.

And, if a child is discovered years later, what then? Because babies are cute, mothers love them, and there will be some, especially with minor defects that will not be killed, even if you kill any midwives that allow it. Should they be killed then? That's possible, but more difficult to do without eliciting sympathy, especially if they've been useful members of society. Depending on the frequency you have to do something with those--either give them a job that might kill them (fighting the creatures that have resulted from the Warp) or find another way to separate them from society.

Solutions here include 1) multiple witnesses at the birth 2) dire consequences for hiding such a thing 3) perhaps an inspection by several priests or priestesses prior to marriage to make sure you haven't been influenced by the Warp since your birth or as a second measure if perhaps your midwife allowed you to live.

REAL WORLD JUSTIFICATION 3: It's a hard knock life. The easiest way to make it acceptable to kill babies, is to make sure that it's illustrated to people that the lives of the tainted are, in fact, more terrible than being alive. A mother would feel better about killing a child if, in fact they would be sparing them a life of misery and pain. In ye olden tymes, this was used as justification, but with your world, I am sure you can find a way to turn that up to 11. Government and society can participate in this. There should be caged carts with tainted people to illustrate this. Seriously.


Think about the parents

I imagine something with this sort of pervading effect across all aspects of life would seep into culture too. Fables, myths and Gods will doubtless be related to this. What you need is some story of "returning" the tainted to the Warp. Some method where the mother can console herself with thinking her baby has gone to the right place for it, rather than having taken away any potential joy the child could have had.

Mothers build up a bond with their child and are primed to do anything for their child at the moment of birth. You need to give them a good reason not to regret their choice else you risk a rise in various mental illnesses and guilt in the parents.

I suggest some peaceful seeming method, floating the babies out in small wicker basket into a lake where the spirit of the void is said to live. Perhaps these boats are designed such that they will sink before too long (when the spirit takes them).

If the state adopts this belief or promotes a church following it then before too long it will become the norm.

You could even tie it in with adoptions - after sending off a tainted child you can adopt (or perhaps adoptions will become preferred and pregnancy an occupation where all children are taken from you).


The available evidence indicates that for hundreds of thousand of years it was routine for parents to kill newborn infants or abandon them to die. It is estimated that about 10 to 20 percent of all humans born were murdered as newborn infants. Naturally any noticeably deformed infants would be much more likely to be murdered.

Therefore I do not think that your fictional society will have much difficulty persuading its people to behave just as evilly as the vast majority of humans throughout the existence of Homo sapiens have, instead of behaving as good as the comparatively tiny minority of humans in recent decades, centuries, and millennia who have been opposed to murdering newborn infants.


There is no shortage of real world examples of this. Will points to the most visible, recent example. The Spartans did this (and more) to breed strong warriors.

There is a shrinking tribe in Africa that does this but they go a bit overboard. They mix it in with superstition to the point that if a baby cuts its first tooth from the lower jaw instead of the upper jaw, it is killed for the good of the tribe. There are so many "non-defect" features that, because they are bad omens, end up with the death of the child that the tribe is on the verge of disappearing.

In India (in the remote villages), some still drown girl babies simply because the family has to pay a dowry to marry them off.

So, whether the people are trying to promote the strong or avoid the bad, it seems pretty common to get the culture to buy into eugenics.

Here are some ideas:

Maybe provide scholarships for the strong, tax breaks for healthy children, increased costs from taxes to marriage licenses for each "sub-optimal" person living in that family (if you marry into a family with such people, you get the tax penalty too).


Nazis... Sparta... Barbaric tribes...

Hmmm... Why are we looking really so far?

Would there really have to be a justification? Wouldn't making it legal (claim it's not a human being; its all parents choice) it letting society to get used to this idea.

Let's look at fate of babies/fetus diagnosed with Down Syndrome:

About 92% of pregnancies in Europe with a diagnosis of Down syndrome are terminated.[14] In the United States, termination rates are around 67%, but this rate varied from 61% to 93% among different populations evaluated.[13] When nonpregnant people are asked if they would have a termination if their fetus tested positive, 23–33% said yes, when high-risk pregnant women were asked, 46–86% said yes, and when women who screened positive are asked, 89–97% say yes.[84] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_syndrome#Abortion_rates

Actually the most twisted thing is that gov may just ask parents who disagree to sign a statement that they want to send the kid to some asylum, cover all cost and provide collateral.

  • $\begingroup$ Forget Downs syndrome, this is incredibly common with children with autism, which is a much less severe handicap on a child's life than Downs syndrome. Many of the parents or family members who do this get off without punishment because they frame themselves as the victims for having to take care of a handicapped family member and that murdering them was the more merciful option. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 2:51

You must log in to answer this question.