Every newborn in the United States is pricked on the heel at birth to test for Phenylketonuria. Do you even know what Phenylketonuria is? Probably not because, although it's a serious condition causing albinism and mental retardation, it only affects 1 in 15,000 American babies. Now guess how many people cheat on their spouse. One in five. Wouldn't it make sense to do a mandatory paternity test at birth if you're already poking and prodding for everything else?
Dear Abby answered a letter from a pregnant reader whose husband had had a vasectomy. The husband didn't believe the miracle baby was his and the couple parted ways. Situations like this could easily be solved if hospitals made paternity testing as routine as screening for obscure diseases. One may argue such a test doesn't medically affect the patient, but I think it should be a security measure just like ankle bracelets and identification codes.
Think how many problems this would solve! If a couple breaks up after the child is born, the father can't run from his responsibility. If the mother strayed, she can't put the wrong man on the hook. If the child ever needs bone marrow from the father, it could save a lot of time and pain down the road if the issue is cleared early.
I suppose problems that might arise would be disharmony in otherwise happy families. There's always home birth! I'd hate to think that dishonest mothers would be forced into home births just to avoid paternity tests, but considering the impact of paternity fraud I'm inclined to roll the dice. If a man learns a child is not his after paying child support, he does not gets refund. Besides, doesn't a child have the right to know who his or her father is?
I know my kids are mine. They came out of my body and I immediately memorized their faces as they were slapped with ID bracelets. But if we lived in another universe where, say, babies hatched out of pods, I can't say that I would decline a maternity test if it were offered. Maybe the whole thing can be phrased as mandatory "parent" testing to cover women who show up at hospitals with stolen babies.
I'm sure hospitals wouldn't mind turning an extra bucks anyway. See? Everybody wins.