Sunday, August 02, 2009

Baby DNA gathered without parental consent

I watched a special on TV last night that mentioned there was a law that our former president just signed into law last year. Every newborn's DNA can be collected by hospitals for a government "bio-bank" without parental consent. And then earlier this morning, I did some more research and discovered that Bob Barr had also discussed this topic in the AJC:

Once it is collected, the DNA is considered government property. I have a huge problem with this ultimate invasion of privacy. Using this, the government can know information about not only the baby, but the parents and ancestors of the babe. That is way more information than I think the government has the right to collect without my consent. Again, I wouldn't protest this so much if we had the option to give consent... and even to revoke that consent later if we find our data is being used in ways with which we disagree.

Don't get me wrong, I can see the benefits that having access to such a database could provide scientists. I think it could help them solve many sorts of genetically passed diseases. No human is perfect, which means no government is perfect. Some horrible things that, in my opinion, tarnished our nation's reputation have been done in the name of our national security. These things were done without my consent as a citizen, and I had no power to keep them from happening. However, one of the traditions of our country is that to do anything with one of our children, you MUST have the consent of the parent(s) or guardian(s).

My DNA should not be government property without my consent, and now if I decide to get pregnant, I don't have any choice in the matter. In my libertarian leaning heart, this smacks of government invasion into my privacy, and I'm completely unhappy with the idea that I have no recourse other than to file an expensive lawsuit to challenge this law, which is something that, unfortunately, I can't afford these days.

I would love your feedback on this topic, and from many different perspectives, especially if you disagree with me. I'm still forming my opinion about this one, but my gut instinct is that my potential baby's DNA should never be government property without my consent.

5 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you ... but I think its too late ... DNA is easy to collect ... I wonder if the point of this is also for investigative work.

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  2. Thanks for the idea, Susan, I think you're right, it could be for investigative purposes. When you say that, where I go to is being fingerprinted when I was in the 5th grade just in case we were kidnapped. But in my case, my parents had to give their consent for the fingerprinting.

    If it were for this purpose, I could also support it, again as long as parental consent was provided. I don't know, there's just something about this that feels like the biggest intrusion into the privacy of every citizen being born today... along with their parents and relatives.

    While it may be too late at the moment, I still think it's worth raising awareness about. I want to be a mother, but the idea of the government having my possible son or daughter's DNA on file as government property really bothers me. I wonder how many other parents out there don't even know this law has been passed?

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  3. Brad Rowland3:13 PM EST

    Get your hands on a book by Michael Crichton called Next. It touches on the idea of a DNA database, gene patents and who really owns genetic material. There's some really disturbing stuff in there.

    I wasn't aware that the DNA collection from infants had started. What's it going to be used for? Who's overseeing this? How do people get information regarding their DNA/genetic material and who's looking at what it contains. Does my insurance company get to look at it and see if I'm predisposed towards Cancer, Diabetes, Heart DIsease and and refuse to sell me insurance because of it?

    If you think someone won't try it you're very naive. If an agenda can be moved forward or a profit made from it, rest assured that some damned fool will try it

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  4. Brad, I think you just touched on why the idea was bothering me. Thanks, I've missed our talks!

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  5. I think that there are positives and negatives in this.

    The positive is that eventually we will have every living person and a lot of their past family's DNA on file and can make a connection and follow a pattern to study the inheritance probability and evolution of all genetic diseases and the like. It will help us figure out SO much about how they are passed and when they are likely to surface and how they change so we can predict their future evolutions and make vaccines and take preventative measures. (I want to study bones and past diseases to help do the same thing).

    BUT, the government could use our essential DNA to track any person they wanted with the right technology. If someone "needed" to be silenced, assassinated, tracked, whatever...they could do it. I wasn't a huge fan of the Patriot Act in its entirety, either and this is far worse. While there is much good that can come of it, I don't trust mankind enough to always use it correctly. We can't guarantee that there won't be some jerk in the government that uses it for evil purposes.

    ~Caitlin

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