Title
The ethical debate on present day paternity testing practicesThe ethical debate on present day paternity testing practices
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Research group
Faculteit Geneeskunde
Publication type
article
Publication
Leuven,
Subject
Human medicine
Source (journal)
Acta clinica Belgica. - Leuven, 1946 - 1997
Volume/pages
61(2006):2, p. 74-78
ISSN
0001-5512
ISI
000241852500005
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
The last years, the number of paternity tests on buccal swabs sold over the internet as "test kits", has steeply increased. The commercial providers of these services facilitate controversial practices, including clandestine sampling at home, anonymous sending off for analysis, motherless testing and using "stolen" personal objects containing biological material (combs, cigarette butts). This has led to concern on the consequences on the family unit - especially the child - which may suffer emotionally, physically and financially. In reaction, legal initiatives are appearing throughout Europe. The UK Human Genetics Commission has advised that the non-consensual obtaining and analysis of personal genetic information should be a new criminal offence. The German Federal Court of justice has ruled that paternity tests performed without the mother's knowledge are inadmissible as evidence in lawsuits. French taw strictly forbids the application of DNA testing without the involvement of the court system. In Belgium, a proposal for law has been laid down where the offering to the public of paternity tests through the internet is forbidden. Privately requested paternity tests would remain possible, but only in human genetics centres, who take the samples, perform the test and communicate the result during a medical visit. Only accepting blood samples, as proposed, would however reverse technological evolution and is not in the best interest of the child, which this legal proposal above all tries to protect.
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