Should paternity tests be mandatory at birth?

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.




Filed under: Chicago Injustice, Menz


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    Phenylketonuria does not just cause albinism. It "is a rare condition in which a baby is born without the ability to properly break down an amino acid called phenylalanine." This causes build up of phenylalanine which affects the central nervous system and can lead to mental retardation. One of the side effects of PKU is lighter skin, hair and eyes. But the build up of phenylalanine in the body is why it is tested. I went to school with a boy who had PKU and his diet was very strict so that he did not consume anything with phenylalanine. This is why on diet soda, there is a warning for phenylketonurics.

    Sorry to be a know it all, but I just wanted to clarify that the test is not done because of the risk of albinism, but of the risk of mental retardation.

    And I think if women want to have a paternity test done at birth, then more power to them.

  • In reply to AmandaP:

    Right, amongst many symptoms, one of them is albinism. I just meant it is pretty rare compared to the possibility of paternity fraud. I didn't realize it had to do with diet soda though. The more you know!

    Thanks for clarifying and thanks for reading.

  • Yes DNA testing should be made mandatory @ birth.
    You'll agree when you read this:

    Melbourne Australia

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    I took the liberty of looking up the info you meant to present and found the correct link:

    It's really crazy what I'm reading out there. Basically, courts want to pin a daddy, *any* daddy, to drum up child support revenue no matter what is proven later. It's a scary world. (Ha, well, not for me I guess :)

  • I have worked as a volunteer with fathers for 23 years, and I have seen a lot of this. I also live in Kansas where one the child support order is in place, it cannot be overturned, regardless of paternity. Though changes have taken place in the US, in many states it is still fairly easy to get a child support award without the man being able to respond, or even know about it until it is too late.

    Two years ago, a 21 year old male learned he owed arrears for his 15 year old daughter. They would not even accept his birth certificate to show he could not be the father. Fortunately, he had a relative with a friend in the governor's office, so an executive order was issued to stop the order.

    I have written on this subject and it is a part of the Dads House Manual.

    There are also other related problems not considered by those men who impregnated the woman.

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    This subject is actually quite in-depth, but I'll do a quick short post.

    From 1999-2008 the American Blood Bank has published a report that has shown that of samples tested, not the general population, but of the samples requested to be tested that 24-29% (depending on year) were not the father.

    Ingest that for a minute. Those seeking to be tested didn't wake up one day and just do it for giggles, but because someone had inferred, informed them, or stated about them that they WERE the father.

    From the 2008 report: "The average exclusion rate for the laboratories reporting exclusions was 25.92%, with a standard deviation of 7.27. The median exclusion rate was 27.00% with a range of 11.11% to 39.48%. The explanation for the range of exclusion rates is complex but appears to be related to the laboratory’s volume and client base."

    There have been all sorts of feminist scholars, lawyers, and policy makers who have tried to normalize this fraud "in the best interests of the child"

    This one is a gem:

    In this sad treatise on law, from a law professor no less, she absolves the one who lies, wants to normalize the practice, and proposes that a man who so much as DATES a woman for more than 2 years (meaning it's not his child) should be able to be liable for child support. No, I'm not kidding.

    In some states, if you are a married man, it does not matter if you are provably not the father, you are adjudicated to be the father automatically. Good luck getting custody though.

    I could go on and on, but instead of me making assertions - simply google the subject.

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    BTW - for some reason, the article that Prof Jacobs wrote set me off. I should note that, while I have never had this happen to me, the insincerity and mental gymnastics Prof. Jacobs engaged in irked me to no end.

    I wrote her a reply in one sitting. It came out more as a rant - but one that was fact filled and logical. Due to my writing this, when she was on nation wide radio I was invited to call in and mention my rebuttal (which I had sent her, and she remembered getting).

    Anywho - here it is:

  • In reply to Steven Beene:

    I wish links worked in these comments. Thanks for reading!

  • Jenna:

    I think that until paternity testing is a legitimate defense against a child support order that mandatory paternity testing at birth is a legitimate way to fight back against paternity fraud. I can't believe how unjust the family courts can be.

    Thanks for highlighting this issue. I suspect that most women (and men) are unaware of the fact that men can be nailed for child support even if they can prove they are not the father, unless they contest it at the beginning on the basis of paternity (when they may not realize they are not the father).

    I suspect many women would object to mandatory paternity testing on the logic that it is insulting that the government suspects them of cheating from the get-go. I think the behavior of the family courts is far more insulting, however, and this is a good way to fight back against them.

  • In reply to hopelesscase:

    The only way I can see routine paternity testing working is if little fanfare is made about introducing it.

    As it is, the mother can refuse any tests she wants. I refused vaccines when both my kids were born (I got them caught up when they gained a few pounds, I just didn't want someone so tiny being pumped full of so much so soon). But in the case of PKU, I didn't even know they did that until now and my kids are toddlers! Probably if they had made a big deal about it I would have questioned it.

    But this isn't about the mother and only partially about the father. It's really about the child.

    One big problem I can see though is paternity testing deterring fathers from being present at birth.

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