One of the most common topics for daytime television shows is paternity. Mothers can be seen claiming an individual man is the father of her child while the father adamantly denies the same. A familiar theory of proof during these shows is that the baby “looks like the father.” Whether the mother says that a daughter has her father’s eyes or a son his smile, a photo comparison is referenced as evidence.
Once the verbal battle has been exhausted, the talk show host presents an envelope that contains the DNA information for both the child and the father and the crowd sits on the edge of their seats waiting to hear “you are” or “you are not the father.” Traditionally, DNA testing has only been available after the birth of the child, but will new technology that allows for prenatal testing make these shows obsolete?
One of the first prenatal paternity tests was recently conducted at a lab in West Michigan, using noninvasive procedures to test fragments of a fetus’s DNA in the pregnant mother’s blood. Although this lab is one of the first to become preapproved for the new procedure, it is a single location in a nationwide franchise and could quickly become available in a number of labs in California.
Will earlier paternity testing make child support and custody processes go more smoothly as parents deal with the issues before there is an innocent, screaming baby in their arms? Or could it complicate the legal process as parents want determinations over a child that isn’t even born yet? What if the child doesn’t make it to birth? What if the child is born with special needs?
Source: mlive, “Kalamazoo lab first in West Michigan to conduct new prenatal paternity test,” Yvonne Zipp, Dec. 4, 2012