Will the MN House Vote to Repeal Genetic Privacy Rights at Birth?

House Vote on HF 1760 Expected Today

Saint Paul/May 5, 2009 - The Minnesota House is expected to vote on a bill that will limit the ability of parents to protect their child's genetic privacy. The bill exempts newborns from the strong protections of the Minnesota Genetic Privacy Law (M.S. 13.386), and eliminates informed written parent consent rights now in law. Today, by law, government may not collect, store, use, or disseminate the genetic information of citizens without informed written consent.  That includes newborn citizens.

HF 1760, authored by Rep. Paul Thissen (D-Mpls), excludes newborn citizens, their genetic test results and their DNA from all consent requirements.

"House File 1760 is a violation of civil rights. It gives government first dibs to newborn DNA and genetic test results. The DNA and test results become State government property unless the parent knows enough to object," said Twila Brase, president of CCHC.

"Most parents, in the midst of post-delivery exhaustion and excitement, think it's just the hospital coming to take blood from their baby's heel for a simple test. They have no idea that it's essentially the government that's taking it, and they have no idea that the government will keep what they take and what they learn," she added.

On March 23, 2007, an administrative law judge ruled that the Minnesota Department of Health was violating the Minnesota Genetic Privacy Law. Judge Barbara Nielsen said they could collect the blood solely for the purpose of testing, not storage and research. The Department appealed to the Chief ALJ, and lost. The Department has continued to violate the law by collecting more blood than they need and storing, using and disseminating newborn DNA and genetic test results for research without written informed parent consent.

On March 11, 2009, nine families sued the Department of Health under the Government Data Practices Act.

"House File 1760 would reward the health department's illegal behavior by eliminating the law they have refused to follow. It would also eliminate the ability of parents to ever sue again for violations of the Government Data Practices Act," said Brase.

"Is the Minnesota House willing to eliminate informed written parent consent requirements and genetic privacy rights at birth? We hope not. We hope state legislators will stand firm in their oath to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of the people, including the genetic privacy rights of newborn citizens," Brase concluded.

For More Information

FMI:
Twila Brase, RN, PHN
President
651-646-8935 office

- CCHC -


Citizens' Council on Health Care supports freedom for patients and doctors, medical
innovation, and the right to a confidential patient-doctor relationship.

 

Citizens' Council on Health Care is a non-profit, independent health care policy organization that supports free-market ideas in health care.

 

Citizens' Council on Health Care
1954 University Avenue West, Suite 8, St. Paul, MN 55104
Phone: 651.646.8935 / Fax: 651.646.0100, e-mail


   

Media Contact:

Twila Brase, President
Phone: 651-646-8935 (office)
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