We are continuing our discussion from our last post about a new approach to paternity tests. Two companies have developed blood tests that can be conducted in the eighth or ninth week of a pregnancy; for the most part, paternity tests now must wait until after the baby has arrived. By confirming the identity of the father before birth, the mother and father will be able to establish parental rights to custody and visitation early on. The tests will buy the parents some valuable preparation time.
The tests start with blood samples from the mother and the potential father. The mother’s blood contains fragments on the baby’s DNA, and the test looks for a match in the father’s blood. It’s noninvasive and may not even require a doctor to be present. The DNA analysis has already proved effective at determining gender and testing for Down syndrome early in the pregnancy. Researchers have also used the method to determine the baby’s entire genome.
However, the tests cannot be used in a child custody case without being certified, and neither test has passed muster yet. The AABB, the organization responsible for the certification, is considering the matter, according to the senior director for policy. Only one of the manufacturers has applied, though.
Certification would mean legal acceptance, and that in turn could mean that courts would be involved in child support disputes before the birth. Current law does not recognize that a father has any responsibility for costs associated with the pregnancy or birth until after the child is born.
So the burden falls squarely on the woman’s shoulders, and the baby may be the one who suffers in the end. Prenatal care, proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle for the mother has a direct effect on the baby, but those things may not be available without financial support from the father.
At this time, the tests cost more than double what the post birth paternity test costs.
Source: The New York Times, “Before Birth, Dad’s ID,” Andrew Pollack, June 19, 2012