Federal Judge Says Parents Must Submit Children to State-Sponsored Genetic Testing at Birth

Minneapolis, Minnesota -- Citizens' Council on Health Care opposes yesterday's federal ruling that upholds the Nebraska state law requiring parents to submit their newborn children for state disease testing at birth.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf, who in 2004 had given Ray and Louise Spiering a temporary order restraining the state from taking their baby's blood within 48 hours of birth, has now ruled that the state has a legitimate interest in testing for diseases in babies. The parents had objected due to religious reasons.

All states have newborn genetic testing statutes, but only Nebraska is the only state that forces parents to comply without exception. Minnesota law, as a result of CCHC efforts, now allows parents to opt-out of the testing, or to allow the testing but require the blood and test results to be destroyed. The CDC says newborn screening is the nation's largest genetic testing program.

Twila Brase, president of CCHC, makes the following statement:

"The judge's decision means that the blood of citizens cannot be withheld from the government, that the DNA of newborn citizens is essentially government property.

"Compulsory submission to government genetic tests is an infringement of the constitutional rights of all citizens. "

"This is a very slippery slope. This decision undermines the parent's rights to make medical decisions for their children. If this decision is not overturned, all American citizens may soon be subject to government-imposed medical directives.

"What 'legitimate state interest' will the court next support? In utero genetic testing? Adult genetic testing? Adult submission to medical or psychological tests? Required use of medication?

"For the constitutional rights of citizens to be restored, the judge's decision must be overturned."


Media Contact:

Twila Brase, President and Co-founder
Office: 651-646-8935