Mandatory Paternity Testing

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Nothingman
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Mandatory Paternity Testing

Post by Nothingman » Nov 16th 2004, 6:47 pm

The issue of mandatory paternity testing was raised on a radio talk show I listen to. I thought it was a outstanding idea that I would share it with you guys and get your opinions on it. The basic argument is that all babies born in the US should be tested to confirm the identity of the father.

I propose that only a confirmed father may appear on a birth certificate. All other others will appear as “UNKNOWN”. Testing costs will be the responsibility of the prospective parents. I realize that paternity tests are somewhat expensive at this time, but if we were performing 40 million tests a year instead of 1 million, the cost would be lowered substantially. Also, if you are not in the position to afford the test, I would argue you are not in a financial situation where you should be having a baby. Any potential father refusing to take paternity test, waves his right to not be named on the birth certificate. This would ensure men could not escape the responsibility by refusing to take the test and would advocate their participation.

Why do we need this?

When it comes to fatherhood, men are guilty until proven innocent. A woman can place write a man’s name on a birth certificate and he then entitled to all the responsibilities of the position. He never has to sign anything, be present, or offer any form of consent. It is then up to the man to prove that he is not the father should someone come after him for child support. Mandatory testing would in no way reduce the responsibilities of fathers. It just ensures that the correct people are held responsible and provides uncontestable proof of that responsibility.

Also, I believe it would help protect and even improve the “sanctity of marriage” by discouraging infidelity and reducing parental fraud. Unlike gay marriage, mandatory testing would actually affect the sanctity of traditional marriages, because apparently it’s an issue people are very concerned about. I’m sure all those who supported amendments “protecting” marriage had “sanctity” in mind, not just an intolerance for homosexuals. But regardless, discouraging infidelity by making it impossible to pass someone else’s kid off as your husband’s, and making people more accountable for their actions can only help marriage as an institution.
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Post by wicked » Nov 16th 2004, 7:10 pm

hmmmm... well...yes, and still the idea of having the government mandate paternity testing bothers me. I don't want the government involved in any aspect of my reproductive life.

My poor brother had this problem in reverse..kind of. He was informed by his wife that his second son was NOT his...about 10 years late. He had to decide if he would do the testing. I told him not to bother , because being a father has so much more to do with raising a child than sperm...anybody with a penis and a viable sperm count can make someone pregnant , It takes a real man to be a father. He loves his son, and decided it really didn't matter, that it would only caus a lot of pain for both him and his son.
"So this is hell. I'd never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the "burning marl." Old wive's tales! There's no need for red-hot pokers. HELL IS - OTHER PEOPLE!"

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Post by SanDeE* » Nov 16th 2004, 8:00 pm

I'm glad your brother is being responsible and wonderful towards his son. Does your nephew know that his dad is not his biological father? I mean, you have to think about the health history of his (your nephew's) paternal side. What if there is something bad that runs in that family? Maybe your sister-in-law can find all that out somehow? I don't know. It's a really tough call. It's a sticky situation.

Would EVERY single family be required to do paternity testing? My parents never would have done that, because there is no way my father could be anyone else but my father. That's just how my parents relationship was, and still is. Aren't most married couples faithful and don't have to worry about questioning paternity? The ones I know are, at least.
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wicked
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Post by wicked » Nov 16th 2004, 8:19 pm

[quote="Kristin"]I'm glad your brother is being responsible and wonderful towards his son. Does your nephew know that his dad is not his biological father? I mean, you have to think about the health history of his (your nephew's) paternal side. What if there is something bad that runs in that family? Maybe your sister-in-law can find all that out somehow? I don't know. It's a really tough call. It's a sticky situation.
[quote]

No I don't think it has been brought up to him. His mother does know who the father is, and there is still a question about IF my brother is his genetic father...she was known to be a bitch when she was drunk.They are divorced now, actually I think they were in the process of trying to get "back together" when she dropped that bomb.

It really is a very difficult situation.

Just as historical aside, do you know that PATERNITY only became an issue when we be came an agricultural society? Once land became an issue...because suddenly you had to KNOW who you were handing down your land to.
AGRICULTURE was the death of the feminie mystique, so to speak.

I used to go by nellieX, because I like Malcomb X do not know my real name. I only carry the names of all my male relatives. You cannot trace your heritage back throguh the female line...well you can sort of, but you'll hit a dead end.
"So this is hell. I'd never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the "burning marl." Old wive's tales! There's no need for red-hot pokers. HELL IS - OTHER PEOPLE!"

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Post by SanDeE* » Nov 16th 2004, 8:27 pm

Maybe this is sorta sexist, but if I have children I would like them to have my last name. There are only two boys in my generation to pass down my dad's last name. It's a Bohemian name, and only people blood-related to me have it. I've never heard of someone outside my blood line with the same last name as me. My mother's maiden name is Irish/English and rather common, so she was all right giving it up... 12 years after she married my dad! But she did end up keeping her maiden name as her middle name. If I have kids someday I want them to have my last name somewhere in their name, be it their middle name, hyphened with their father's last name, or just have my last name be theirs, too. I would not blend my last name with my husband's last name. I think that's a dumb idea, personally.
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Jody Barsch*
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Re: Mandatory Paternity Testing

Post by Jody Barsch* » Nov 17th 2004, 3:28 am

Nothingman wrote:The issue of mandatory paternity testing was raised on a radio talk show I listen to. I thought it was a outstanding idea that I would share it with you guys and get your opinions on it. The basic argument is that all babies born in the US should be tested to confirm the identity of the father. ... I believe it would help protect and even improve the “sanctity of marriage” by discouraging infidelity and reducing parental fraud. ... But regardless, discouraging infidelity by making it impossible to pass someone else’s kid off as your husband’s, and making people more accountable for their actions can only help marriage as an institution.
I think that I really disagree with this mandatory paternity testing. While I don’t agree with men who ignore or deny their responsibilities, or with women who willfully lie about their children’s fathers, I do not see mandatory paternity testing as a solution. I find it demeaning, and intrusive, and very unlikely to benefit the institution of marriage. If a married couple’s incentive not to cheat is that an enforced paternity test may be in their future, it doesn’t say much about the marriage. Also, it seems like really this testing would only implicate wives, and not husbands.
I propose that only a confirmed father may appear on a birth certificate. All other others will appear as “UNKNOWN”.
What’s the deal with birth certificates currently? What happens now when children are born without a father? Do those certificates really say “father unknown”? I’m sure they no longer say “illegitimate”. (Sorry, Bastard Out of Carolina constitutes about the extent of my exposure to birth certificates.)
Also, if you are not in the position to afford the test, I would argue you are not in a financial situation where you should be having a baby.
Possibly, but we cannot turn parenthood into a class issue, as in: you need a certain amount of money to get a father's name on the birth certificate. (Just as we must be adamant that abortion and birth control do not become things that only the rich have access to, so must we protect peoples' rights to complete birth certificates without additional fees.) Particularly because in many couples' cases, paternity tests would be a superfluous expense, one that they should not have to pay. If the government decides to require this, I find it outrageous that we should foot the bill. More than that, it is debasing and an invasion of privacy.
When it comes to fatherhood, men are guilty until proven innocent. A woman can place write a man’s name on a birth certificate and he then entitled to all the responsibilities of the position. He never has to sign anything, be present, or offer any form of consent.
I see this as a strange thought -- if the man is the father, he is the father. There are no papers to sign or consent contracts to. The mother doesn't sign something to give a go-ahead, or to accept becoming pregnant. Not using birth control effectively is the consent to parenthood, an act that makes both individuals responsible for the outcomes (and if one or both of these individuals do not recognize this responsibility, I doubtful that an enforced paternity test would do much to change the situation).
It is then up to the man to prove that he is not the father should someone come after him for child support. Mandatory testing would in no way reduce the responsibilities of fathers. It just ensures that the correct people are held responsible and provides uncontestable proof of that responsibility.
I think this is a little misleading, in that, clearly this testing is not going to identify every child's father, it is only able to give a positive or negative response to individuals who are tested.
Any potential father refusing to take paternity test, waves his right to not be named on the birth certificate. This would ensure men could not escape the responsibility by refusing to take the test and would advocate their participation.
It could be just that I’m exhausted, but I have read this several times and can’t make meaning of it.


I'll spend some more time thinking about this topic, and consult with my local PP, but I'm pretty sure that I'm not in favor of it.
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Post by starbug » Nov 17th 2004, 6:45 am

I'm afraid I fundamentally disagree with enforced parenthood testing. It sounds, on the face of it, like a good idea. But when you really look at what it means, it falls apart.

Like Jody said, first and foremost it's a massive invasion of privacy. It would require the government to hold samples of the baby (let's face it, the only one clearly not responsible for any of this) and the father. Eventually the government will have the DNA profile for every person within their jurisdiction. You could argue that they could destroy it, that it could not be used for any other purpose, but I will bet any money that in the current climate it would end up being used to convict people of terrorism and the like - sounds like a perfectly possible back-door strategy for the erosion of civil liberties to me. Plus as a woman, I just don't want to subject my child to that.

I can see that there are some unscrupulous women out there who name fathers wrongly. But enforced testing of every 'possible' father isn't going to help in stopping a woman doing this unless she has to pay for it. Who is going to pay? you have to have a clear rule and the fair thing to do here would be to have the state cover it, if they require it. You could land it on the mother's doorstep but that would be a bad idea because it could quickly burgeon. if she has 5 men that could be the father but she honestly doesn't know which one, she's immediately hit with a massive cost. Neither is it fair to ask the man to cough up simply because some woman says he could be the father of her child.

That said, I think it's unhelpful to imagine this happy sappy world where everyone in a marriage is faithful and never has any indiscretions. Equally, it's not something that only applies within marriage. Think of the prostitutes of this world etc. How on earth is this going to help them? They going to call up all their 50 clients from around conception time and then pay for all those tests? I doubt it.

The up-side is that you could identify a father (eventually). But where would this get you if that father refuses to pay child support/disappears etc? To my understanding, the current problem centres more around known fathers skipping out of their responsibilities. I don't understand how testing them is going to make them suddenly wake up and smell the coffee. You're back to square one with suing them, slapping them in prison (!) etc and your test is just a piece of paper that proves what was admitted already, in the majority of cases.

Re the last sentence Jody pointed up as confusing: If I understand correctly it's saying that if a man refuses to take a test, the woman can insist that he is named on the birth certificate as the father. So, it is to the man's advantage to take the test. I can sort of see the point on that one, but I still don't agree with the enforced test thing on the grounds of what I have said already.

It seems to me that it wouldn't help anyone, solve anything. Or if it did, it would be such a small proportion of people who would actually gain, that the burden of imposing this invasion of privacy cannot be justified. I don't really care about the sanctity of other people's marriages: as far as I'm concerned that's up to them. I certainly don't think it's enough of my business to start imposing mandatory tests on their children.

This is interesting though - good topic NM! You dragged me out of my early-morning coffee stupour 8)

Now, a related topic which I had to discuss in a class a few years ago: should parenthood be licensed? You want to see people foam at the mouth, try that one...

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Post by SanDeE* » Nov 17th 2004, 3:01 pm

Well put, Jody and starbug! I agree with both of you, and I disagree with required paternal testing. What about unmarried women who become artificially inseminated by their own choice? A woman who is artificially inseminated is making a statement that she wants to be a mother and have a child, but she doesn't need a boyfriend/husband to support her with it. She will support the child herself. Right? So would she have to do a required paternity testing? The clinic where she was inseminated would have that info, but chances are she would never want to seek out the biological father of her child. How about the child, though? Would they want to find their biological father someday? Wow, this topic is like a perpetual wormhole.
starbug wrote:...should parenthood be licensed?
Wow, that's a tough one too. You need a license to own a gun, drive a car, and even go fishing. But anyone can become a parent. I don't know how licensing parenthood could possibly be enforced. It doesn't seem logically possible. Rapes happen, kids with raging hormones happen, condoms break, birth control pills can be faulty, etc. Would that mean that to have sex you have to get a license? Of course, our current administration in the US wants everyone to remain abstinent until marriage, which will never happen. I read somewhere that Texas is trying to change all the health/sex ed books to just talk about practicing abstinence instead of the many other types of birth control. That would be absolutely devastating. I disagree with licensing parenthood. Sorry to those I may offend, but I think the human body is something to be enjoyed... safely, respectfully and intelligently, of course. But enjoyed none the less.
Um, in my room, one seam is a little off and I stare at it constantly. It's, like, destroying me.

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wicked
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Post by wicked » Nov 17th 2004, 3:49 pm

The problem as I see it that these kinds of legislation open pandora's box.
I will not agree to the governement having control over my reproduction in any way! If we allow it in one instance where will it stop?
My body My choices
"So this is hell. I'd never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the "burning marl." Old wive's tales! There's no need for red-hot pokers. HELL IS - OTHER PEOPLE!"

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Post by Jody Barsch* » Nov 17th 2004, 11:38 pm

starbug wrote:Eventually the government will have the DNA profile for every person within their jurisdiction. You could argue that they could destroy it, that it could not be used for any other purpose, but I will bet any money that in the current climate it would end up being used to convict people of terrorism and the like - sounds like a perfectly possible back-door strategy for the erosion of civil liberties to me.
Good call Starbug, that hadn't even occured to me, That is really scary.
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