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Meaningful Suffering

Meaningful Suffering

(p.127) Chapter Six Meaningful Suffering
Contested Reproduction
John H. Evans
University of Chicago Press

A central moral discourse concerning reproductive genetic technologies (RGTs) relates to the relief of suffering. This chapter examines some academic writing about how medicine and science describe suffering to help understand what is at stake here. RGTs are useful for the elimination of pain, suffering, or both. Using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to avoid having a child with cystic fibrosis could be justified as an attempt to reduce both the literal pain that a child would experience with the condition, as well as the suffering of that child and the family. A discourse can be traced back to debates about the nature of the Trinity in the fourth century, which were largely debates about the nature of God. This discourse implies that “the optimal response to suffering” is not to stop it (which God would presumably be capable of doing), but rather to “suffer through” it, like God does. These discourses of suffering are not equally used in each religious tradition.

Keywords:   suffering, reproductive genetic technologies, discourse, genetic diagnosis, God, religious tradition

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