Friday, March 14, 2008

Don't have a baby in Minnesota.

Holy #!(*~*$!.

Last night, the Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee voted against consent rights (ownership) of infant blood and DNA, reported Twila Brase, RN, President of the Citizens' Council on Health Care. That means DNA material on children can be stored and used by the government or third parties without the consent of parents. The bill (SF 3138) now goes to the Senate for a full vote.
As reported last year, the CCHC had discovered that for ten years, the Minnesota Department of Health had been illegally collecting DNA material on at least 780,000 babies which it was storing indefinitely, and has already given away the material on more than 41,000 babies for genetic research, all without the knowledge or consent of parents. Since then, the CCHC has been working for informed consent and arguing that the state cannot take or use genetic material without parents’ consent. The CCHC has cautioned that the state’s genetic database will soon be linked electronically to its medical database, with a permanent impact on patient records and genetic profiling that could be used against people by insurers or employers.

Michael Critchton has just joined Tom Clancy on the list of "people whose fiction turns out to be documentary."

I don't know enough about babies to comment on newborn screenings, but I do know no one should be collecting or doing any sort of research on anyone's tissues without their explicit informed consent (for babies, that would be their parents' consent). And under no circumstances should any medical records be released to businesses or employers without explicit consent. Good grief.

UPDATE: I think I figured out why MN skipped "parental consent for DNA collection/research on babies." When you have more than two people involved in conception/pregnancy/parenting, it's a legal laocoon. Adopted children--the legal parents have no genetic material in the baby. They can sign off without fear of the government database affecting their future; the biological parents cannot (you'd think a parent would be concerned about the effect on the child's future, but anyone who's read a newspaper knows you can't count on that). And then there's all the unknown'd never be able to get consent from both biological parents from those women who have Montel Williams perform three, four, ten paternity tests. That's a lot of time/money/hassle; far, far easier to just seize every baby's tissues without telling anyone they're being used for anything other than the common newborn disease screenings.

So don't donate sperm or eggs in MN, either, if you're concerned about your DNA becoming property of the state without your consent.

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