by Patty Donovan
The Bill Nobody Noticed: National DNA Databank
In April of 2008, President Bush signed into law S.1858 which allows the federal government to screen the DNA of all newborn babies in the U.S. This was to be implemented within 6 months meaning that this collection is now being carried out.
S.1858, known as The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007, is justified as a “national contingency plan” in that it represents preparation for any sort of public health emergency. The bill states that the federal government should “continue to carry out, coordinate, and expand research in newborn screening” and “maintain a central clearinghouse of current information on newborn screening… ensuring that the clearinghouse is available on the Internet and is updated at least quarterly”. Sections of the bill also make it clear that DNA may be used in genetic experiments and tests. Read the full bill: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xp…
Twila Brase, president of the Citizens’ Council on Health Care warns that this new law represents the beginning of nationwide genetic testing. Brase states that S.1858 and H.R. 3825, the House version of the bill, will:
- Establish a national list of genetic conditions for which newborns and children are to be tested.
- Establish protocols for the linking and sharing of genetic test results nationwide.
- Build surveillance systems for tracking the health status and health outcomes of individuals diagnosed at birth with a genetic defect or trait.
- Use the newborn screening program as an opportunity for government agencies to identify, list, and study “secondary conditions” of individuals and their families.
- Subject citizens to genetic research without their knowledge or consent.
Read her entire analysis of the implications of this bill here: http://www.cchconline.org/pdf/S_1858_NB…
Brase states that under this bill, “The DNA taken at birth from every citizen is essentially owned by the government, and every citizen becomes a potential subject of government-sponsored genetic research.” All 50 states are now routinely providing results of genetic screenings to the Department of Homeland Security and this bill will establish the legality of that practice plus include DNA.