MN: Genetic testing

Michael Marchio writes on the Minnesota Public Radio site:

The Senate had a pretty light day today, approving a few bills and then recessing to take up the bovine tuberculosis bill, but the House has a whopper of a debate on genetic testing of newborn babies. SF3138, sponsored by Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis)


Rep. Holberg raised these same points in today’s session, and offered an amendment that would require parents to be given a Tennessen warning before the test is conducted.

This exchange between Rep. Ryan Winkler and Rep. Steve Gottwalt probably best summarized the feelings in the chamber.

Rep Winkler:

“The issue is, whether the rights of a parent to genetic information is more important than the right of a child to a healthy life. Any time you adopt an amendment similar to Rep. Holberg’s or other amendments to make it less likely that children will go through this testing process, you’re making it more likely that more children will suffer from…profound mental retardation, growth failure, hearing loss and death. (This was from a document produced from the Department of Health) The issue is, is the parent’s theoretical interest in privacy more important that the child’s right to have a healthy outcome and a healthy life.”

Rep. Gottwalt:

“This is about rights, but its not about the rights that Rep. Winkler just pointed out…The first right is the parent’s right with their child. They have the ultimate right to protect their children, not the state. And having informed consent and opt-in is important. It could be done in a manner that still allows for the testing, that still allows for the treatment. But the parents have the right, not the state, not the hospital, not the doctor.”

Her amendment failed, on a 64-69 vote, but a later one by Rep. Joyce Peppin that would make a signature by parents sufficient to opt-out of the testing passed by a voice vote. While I think there is a pretty strong argument that this testing is a good idea, if someone for whatever reason didn’t want to participate, a signature seems like it should be enough. Good compromise, lawmakers.

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2 comments to “MN: Genetic testing”

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  1. Anonymous - July 17, 2008

    If i frankly speak i didn’t got much information about the blog content. I think the article must contain some more information about the genetic testing. Wish to see a more elaborated article from you.

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  2. Anonymous - July 18, 2008

    Hi Sam,

    The theme of this blog is privacy, and I am not an expert on genetic testing. I think if you go to the CCHC web site or the Minnesota Dept. of Health web site on newborn genetic screening, you can probably find links to more discussion of the testing itself.

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