Sunday, November 22, 2009

Updating New York Times Rips on Paternity Laws and DNA

When I hit publish post on News:  New York Times Rips on Paternity Laws and DNA, I had not reached the last page of the article.  Having now done so, I think here is a solution that I could live with:

Three and a half years earlier, at a federally convened symposium on the increase in paternity questions, a roomful of child-welfare researchers, legal experts, academics and government administrators agreed that much pain could be avoided if paternity was accurately established in a baby’s first days. Several suggested that DNA paternity tests should be routine at birth, or at least before every paternity acknowledgment is signed and every default order entered. In 2001 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court urged the state to require that putative fathers submit to genetic testing before signing a paternity-acknowledgment form or child-support agreement, arguing that “to do otherwise places at risk the well-being of children.”
In other words, the same care that hospitals take ensuring that the right mother is connected to the right newborn — footprints, matching ID bands, guarded nurseries, surveillance cameras — should be taken to verify that the right man is deemed father.

Mandatory DNA testing for everyone would be a radical, not to mention costly, shift in policy. Some advocates propose a somewhat more practical solution: that men who waive the DNA test at a child’s birth should be informed quite clearly that refusing the test will prohibit them from challenging paternity later. Yes, the plan would reveal truths some men might not want to know. Yes, it would raise administrative costs, lower the number of paternity establishments and blow apart some families. But far fewer children would be entangled in traumatic disputes in which men they call Daddy suddenly reject them.

Now the question is how to convince the Indiana General Assembly?

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