1st August 2004
"Who's your daddy?" (Sunday Times article)
This article in today's Sunday Times covered much of the same ground as the BBC programme "From here to paternity", discussed in this blog recently. (Christine Toomey, who wrote the article, discussed this topic with me nearly 2 months ago, and I sent her copies of the four papers on "paternity testing" from this web site).
“ Do you remember watching on TV the father in America being told his son has been beheaded in Iraq? How he fell to the ground, his legs gave way. Well, that's how I felt. I collapsed.... The pain is physical. It's so hard. ”
"Paul", speaking about the moment when he discovered the truth
“ It is a potentially explosive area in which to legislate, which is why the government probably hasn't done anything about it yet. A lot of us are fighting for the right of every individual to know if a child is or isn't theirs. It's a very modern moral conundrum. ”
Vanessa Lloyd-Platt, a London-based lawyer who represents mothers as well as fathers in family disputes
“ ... any attempt to make a mother's consent compulsory will encourage those who don't have that consent to use testing services based abroad, via the internet. The genie is out of the bottle.... Although conducting tests without a mother's consent may seem unfair on them ... this pales by comparison to the anguish some supposed fathers go through". ”
Daniel Leigh, spokesman for the London-based company DNA Solutions
“ ... when children are very young they don't have a fully formed idea of what a father is. In some ways they may be better equipped to deal with something like this then. ”
Malcolm Stern, psychotherapist
“ The courts believe generally that it is in the child's best interests to know its biological parents. ”
Phillip Webb, chairman of the subcommittee of the HGC currently reviewing the structure of existing legislation for the government
The lengthy article appears to be balanced and accurate. However, as with the BBC programme, the article didn't attempt to answer the question "what should we be doing about this over the next few decades?" The answer posed by this web site is "we should try to reduce the incidence of misattributed paternity by an order of magnitude, so that far fewer men and children will suffer in this way". Those children, and the lies that surround them, are not the result of some mysterious process that people are powerless to influence!
"Scanning the internet, Paul discovered that it was easy to obtain and pay for a DNA test to establish paternity. In the past year, approximately 20,000 British parents are believed to have subjected their children to paternity tests - almost double the number requested two years ago - with around a third discovering that the children they have loved are not theirs by blood.... Many paternity "home testing kits" available over the internet, often marketed as "peace of mind" tests, require the consent of only one parent. It was this type of test - widely referred to as "motherless tests" - that Paul ordered."
Some people think that DNA paternity tests are bad. But consider the implications of the following:
"While early blood tests could rule a man out as a potential father, they were less successful in proving definitively who the father was. But the advent of DNA testing in the past 15 years has left no room for doubt."
"With over a quarter of a million paternity tests - costing on average £400 a time - undertaken annually in the US, DNA testing is big business. Roadside billboards carrying freephone numbers alongside pictures of smiling babies and slogans like "Who's my daddy?" are commonplace, as are TV ads mocking up delivery-room scenes where a man gives birth as an announcer declares: "This would be one way to know the father." Given the speed with which social trends cross the Atlantic, it's not inconceivable that such scenarios will show up here. Already British courts are having to deal with the fallout. One family court recently gave leave to a man to sue for the return of a proportion of many years of maintenance payments for a child who, as he was able to prove through a paternity test, was not biologically his. Legal experts believe that the judge ruled that only a portion of the full sum be returned to avoid a flood of similar court cases - and this may also be why attempts are being made to tighten up on regulations governing "motherless tests"."
Note the logic here. Not "what is best for the people concerned?" But "what is best for the court system?"