Until I did some research for this post, everything I knew about paternity and DNA testing came from CSI and the Maury Povich show. And based on that knowledge I would agree that mandatory DNA/Paternity testing at birth would be a splendid idea.
But upon doing some research and putting some thought into it, I realize that there is no way I can support mandatory testing. The reasons are as follows: (I have to thank Hubman for helping me with the research and scientific facts)
The Practical Reasons
1. DNA/Paternity Testing is Expensive: Looking around the internet, I saw that DNA testing costs an average of $500. According to an article in the NY Times, 4.3 million babies were born in the United States in 2007. This means that $2.1 billion is going to be spent on testing that is largely unnecessary as the paternity is not in question for a majority of the pregnancies.
2. How will they collect the data from the Dads: If a woman is truly wondering who the daddy is, chances are he is probably not standing next to her in the delivery room. Who is going to track these men down? And who is going to pay for it?
3. There is no national DNA Database: Unless you have served in the military (as Hubman once did) or have had your DNA tested in crime processing your DNA information is not available unless you provide it. Even for those who have their DNA on file for the military it is not available for testing without probable cause. Are we now going to make fatherhood a crime and use that to compel men to provide a DNA sample?
4. This would create a huge new bureaucracy: In order to collect samples, test them report the results and store the information the country would need a whole new Federal or State Agency. As much as I want to have job creation, is creating the WYD Agency (Who's Your Daddy) really the best way to do it?
5. This would be a HUGE invasion of privacy: Now that your DNA has been collected, its going to go where? And be visible by whom? And destroyed when and how? Is this something we really want to leave to our State or Federal government?
6. DNA testing is not 100% Accurate: According to the DNA Diagnostics Center, their results for inclusion testing is accurate 99.99% of the time. Pretty good, right? How about the flip side of that, the 0.01% of the time their test is wrong. That's 1 in every 10000 tests. Back to those 4.3 million births per year, we now have 430 couples who are told that the dad, who really is the dad, is not the dad. Oops. Even though things might be rectified in the end, this could cause a lot of people a world of hurt.
7. DNA testing is not easy: It's not a perfect analogy, but consider the effort to identify the human remains from the 9/11 World Trade Center Attack through DNA analysis. Dr. Robert Shaler was the director of the Forensic Biology Lab of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of NYC at the time and wrote a book about the identification effort. There were ~20,000 samples from ~2,900 victims to be identified. And in almost every case, they didn't have to rely on parent or child's DNA for comparison, because through the family they were able to obtain an actual sample of that persons DNA (hair from a hairbrush at home, epithelial cells from a toothbrush, etc). You know how successful they were? They positively ID'd about 1600 of the victims. And it took 3 1/2 years. It's like looking for a piece of hay in a haystack in a field full of haystacks. So if the woman truly has no idea who the father is, locating the father through DNA is really an impossible task.
The Emotional Reasons:
1. Way to Build Trust: Having mandatory DNA testing is like having the government say to every woman in America-We think you are a lying slut.
2. Bonding: For some people, bonding with an infant can be challenging. Having a lingering question in the back of one's head about the paternity of the child could inhibit the bonding.
3. Its insulting to the couple: For a committed and loving couple, mandatory testing cheapens the whole wonderful lovely process that having a baby with your partner can be. I cannot imagine that I would fully enjoy the pregnancy experience while being made to feel like the Maury Povich trash.
4. It Devalues the Dad: Mandatory testing reduces the role of father to that of sperm donor. Fatherhood is so much more than that.
And finally, we already have a system that works. If the paternity is truly brought into question there are legal channels to look into this. If there is doubt and either partner does not want to confront the parent, you can collect the DNA sample without the knowledge of the partner.
I am up on Another Suburban Mom today and completely Safe for work.
1 year ago