Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Bush Signs Bill To Take All Newborns' DNA

OK, so this is pretty frightening, and I am certain you haven't heard anything on TV or radio or print news making a big fuss over this. Have you?

The Health Council, and Congressman Ron Paul, and many others who are aware of this now warn that this new law could pave the way for a national DNA database.

Here is what went down:
Last week President Bush signed into law a bill S. 1858, known as The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007 which will allow the federal government to begin to screen the DNA of all newborn babies in the U.S. within six months. This is a move by the government to initiate the establishment of a national DNA database. (Wasn't there an episode of X-File like this?) The justification for this law is that it represents preparation for any sort of "public health emergency." The bill states that the federal government should "continue to carry out, coordinate, and expand research in newborn screening" and "maintain a central clearinghouse of current information on newborn screening... ensuring that the clearinghouse is available on the Internet and is updated at least quarterly". Like we want that information on the Internet too right?

Further information on this was reported by Steve Watson:
Sections of the bill also make it clear that DNA may be used in genetic experiments and tests. One health care expert and prominent critic of DNA screening is Twila Brase, president of the Citizens' Council on Health Care who has written a detailed analysis (PDF) of the new law in which she warns that it represents the first program of populationwide genetic testing.

Brase states that S.1858 and H.R. 3825, the House version of the bill, will:
1. Establish a national list of genetic conditions for which newborns and children are to be tested.
2. Establish protocols for the linking and sharing of genetic test results nationwide.
3. Build surveillance systems for tracking the health status and health outcomes of individuals diagnosed at birth with a genetic defect or trait.
4. Use the newborn screening program as an opportunity for government agencies to identify, list, and study "secondary conditions" of individuals and their families.
5. Subject citizens to genetic research without their knowledge or consent.

"Soon, under this bill, the DNA of all citizens will be housed in government genomic biobanks and considered governmental property for government research," Brase writes. "The DNA taken at birth from every citizen is essentially owned by the government, and every citizen becomes a potential subject of government-sponsored genetic research."

"The public is clueless. S. 1858 imposes a federal agenda of DNA databanking and population-wide genetic research. It does not require consent and there are no requirements to fully inform parents about the warehousing of their child's DNA for the purpose of genetic research."

In a previous report we outlined the consequences of the already existing DNA warehousing operation in Minnesota, a program that the Citizens' Council on Health Care has been following closely for a number of years.
Ms. Brase explained in a statement last month that state Health Department officials are now seeking exemption for the so called "DNA Warehouse" from Minnesota privacy law. This would enable state officials to continue to take the DNA of newborn infants without consent, which would also set the precedent for nationwide policy on DNA screening.
DNA of newborns has already been harvested, tested, stored and experimented with nationwide.
The National Conference of State Legislatures lists for all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the various statutes or regulatory provisions under which newborns' DNA is already being collected.
In addition, all 50 states are now routinely providing these results to the Department of Homeland Security.
The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007, merely establishes this practice within the law.

Another vocal critic of bill S. 1858 is Texas Congressman Ron Paul who made the following comments before the U.S. House of Representatives:

"I cannot support legislation, no matter how much I sympathize with the legislation’s stated goals, that exceed the Constitutional limitations on federal power or in any way threatens the liberty of the American people. Since S. 1858 violates the Constitution, and may have untended consequences that will weaken the American health care system and further erode medical privacy, I must oppose it."

Paul, a medical doctor himself continued, "S. 1858 gives the federal bureaucracy the authority to develop a model newborn screening program. Madame Speaker the federal government lacks both the constitutional authority and the competence to develop a newborn screening program adequate for a nation as large and diverse as the United States. …"

"Those of us in the medical profession should be particularly concerned about policies allowing government officials and state-favored interests to access our medical records without our consent … My review of S. 1858 indicates the drafters of the legislation made no effort to ensure these newborn screening programs do not violate the privacy rights of parents and children," Paul continued.
"In fact, by directing federal bureaucrats to create a contingency plan for newborn screening in the event of a 'public health' disaster, this bill may lead to further erosions of medical privacy. As recent history so eloquently illustrates, politicians are more than willing to take, and people are more than willing to cede, liberty during times of 'emergency," he concluded.
This is pretty astounding news. But where is the outrage? Where is the protest? There is none, because most people are totally unaware. Before November you ought to find out how YOUR present Congressman voted on this piece of intrusive legislation. Find out more about this, and what YOUR own state legislature already has on the books regarding DNA collection from newborns. Let's all do something to get this type of legislation repealed or at least give parents real rights of consent.

It totally gives new meaning to the phrase, "You want a piece of me?" (and that has nothing to do with Britney Spears or Al Pacino/Robert DiNiro)

UPDATE: I found a great and very comprehensive post on this over at JunkFood Science


christinemm said...

This is the first I'd heard of this.

This is very creepy. Is this America? People don't want national ID cards but they are okay with baby's DNA being collected and catalogued? Is that not a huge invasion of privacy??

Sheri said...


Thank you so much for sharing all your information and helping to educate. :) You're right, this stuff isn't going to be broadcast in the "media". :/

Angoraknitter said...

This is dangerous territory! What are they thinking!

Kristina said...

And parents who don't want their kids tested will have them taken away. Nope, I hadn't heard of this. Of course, I also haven't been following the news closely lately, but still...

Heather said...

WHAT??? I am due in August with our third - and now I have got to do snoopng around. GAHH! i wonder if this applies to homebirth - or will peds. do it at the first well baby visit....

Shez said...

Horrific. A total abuse of power

Anonymous said...

S. 1858 does not require mandatory collection of DNA. Read the bill.

Judy Aron said...

No where in my post did I say the word mandatory. However, in many states it is mandatory for blood to be drawn for genetic tests - and the fact is government keeps those samples without parental consent.