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Genomic susceptibility-testing and pregnancy: something old, something new

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This essay explores how testing for common and complex or genomic, as opposed to genetic, susceptibility to deep vein thrombosis both challenges and consolidates old social discourses on genes, gender and pregnancy. The nexus between genetics and reproduction usually crystallizes in the moral dilemma of selective termination. This essay examines online discussion among women with a genomic predisposition to deep vein thrombosis, which is associated with miscarriage and stillbirth. It explores the women's exchanges on what to 'do' in order to safely carry to term a foetus, which may always also have the genomic susceptibility. Interpreting DNA not in terms of predicting fate but of suggesting how to modify one's behaviour in order to give and care for life blunts its eugenistic edge. However, this interpretation also shoulders discussants with the complicated and laborious responsibility of modifying themselves, their life styles and the life styles of their families--all of which falls within women's traditional labour of love in the privatized age of bioindividuality.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society (Egenis) University of Exeter Exeter UK

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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