Tuesday, March 15, 2011
So a friend gave me a suggestion about a blog topic today – At-home DNA/Paternity Tests. I’ve seen these in Duane Reade and Target and thought to myself, “Wow, sure beats going on the Maury Povich Show!”
According to the directions, you take a cotton swab and rub it inside the child's mouth. That will provide enough DNA for the test. The man who may or may not be the father has to do the same. After you collect the DNA and send it in, it takes three to five days for the test to come back, and you can even go to a confidential Web site and get the results.
Now, instead of waiting (either "eagerly" or "fearfully") to hear the words “You are NOT the father,” you can simply go to CVS, swab the kid and wait a week or so to find out if Jr. is actually yours. Or, if you’re a woman, you can try to slip a Q-Tip in your man’s mouth while he’s snoring and test him without his knowledge so you know if you need to start looking for that one night stand or not.
Some think it’s sad that these tests exist over the counter now, while others think it’s a Godsend. Some feel that paternity tests should be mandatory at birth, while others think it’s a slippery slope. It’s been argued that DNA tests should be conducted to establish more than just paternity, such as testing for genetic dispositions to disease, etc. But the issue of consent and privacy violations comes into play when you swab a kid unbeknownst to the other parent - or even the child. Who has the right to swab the kid? Are you violating the child’s rights at all? And what do these companies do with the DNA results – keep them? Sell them to outside sources?
And the main question is how accurate are these tests to begin with? Studies have shown that most over-the-counter paternity tests are 99.9% accurate when you have enough of the child’s DNA, the father AND the mother. If you simply have the man’s DNA along with the child’s, it goes down to 99%. Still pretty good, right?
The tests cost between $20 and $30 and usually include a lab processing fee, which could be as much as $100. While that may still seem a bit steep to some folks, it’s A LOT cheaper than getting it done professionally, which makes these tests so attractive. I’m sure it gets even MORE expensive if a woman has to test several men – but it's still better than having 6 dudes sitting up on Maury’s stage. My guess, though, is that most of these tests are secretly used by men, especially if they have easy access to the child….or the man’s nosey girlfriend or new wife who questions paternity (for those of you who watch The Game on BET.)
So what do you think? Are drug store DNA/Paternity tests a good idea? Do you think a man has a right to test a child he suspects isn’t his without the mother’s knowledge, or should these tests require the mother’s DNA before giving results so that they know full consent was given? Do you think these tests should be admissible in family court when trying to establish paternity, custody or child support, etc. – even though not all of these tests are FDA approved? Should men not sign birth certificates until paternity is established, since most courts recognize the man who signs it as the child’s father – regardless of DNA?
A lot of questions - this should be good…let’s go!