What To Do About "Paternal Discrepancy"?

|

Earlier this month, a British review of scientific studies dealing with paternity testing found that about 1 in 25 fathers are unknowingly rearing children who are not genetically theirs.

As genetic screening for diseases and forensic matters becomes more widespread, doctors and testing centers will coincidentally discover that some fathers and children are not genetically related. The Reason Online poll question for today is: Should doctors and testing centers be required to tell fathers and children about any "paternal discrepancy" they uncover?

NEXT: Robertson to Special Forces: Take Chavez Out — To Dinner

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. YES!

    And I must film them all! Who my baby daddy worldwide!

    1. What this thread needs is some nested comments.

      1. No, it doesn’t. Joe is a prick, tho.

  2. Another Yes vote for me.

  3. Doctors and labs shouldn’t be forced to tell or to keep silent. Those arrangements should be made up front by the patients/parents.

    Why does there always have to be a law?

    BTW, parental discrepancy is a great term, I hope it gets into the language.

  4. They should be required NOT to provide that information unless specifically asked.

    A Get Out of Parental Responsibility Free Card is not as important as preventing kids from growing up without fathers. What kind of asshole wants to see kids go through that in the service of greed and dumb pride?

  5. C’mon with your straw-man poll… Of course not.

  6. Yes. I always vote for transparency. Its an underdone virtue these days.

  7. A Get Out of Parental Responsibility Free Card is not as important as preventing kids from growing up without fathers.

    This isn’t about avoiding responsibility for the children you’ve fathered–this is about avoiding responsibility for the children someone else has fathered.

  8. That won’t be nessesary. They’re all mine.

  9. They should be required to tell if asked by either party — though I wouldn’t compel a doctor to tell the party who isn’t his patient.

  10. Absolutely. Unfortunately, German men may no longer have the possibility to find out, at least not subrosa. Minister of justice Brigitte Zypries wants to make it illegal for men to take DNA samples from their supposed children without first notifying the mothers.

  11. I respect the possibility that some people would not want to know. If they do want to know, then by all means they should be told. As TWC said, why does there have to be a law? Can’t the father ask for himself? I don’t think that there would be a HIPAA concern here (although I wouldn’t be surprised if there was).

    I love kids and would be more than willing to raise someone else’s offspring. In fact, I want to go and get me one of those Ethiopian kids like Angelina did. I think of myself as being a good parent, but I recognize that my genes do not need to be propigated any further.

  12. And, one might add, about a mother taking responsiblity for being a lying ho. The problem wouldn’t exist if the women involved were honest.

  13. Instead of high-minded statements about disclosure versus family stability and whatnot, let’s get pragmatic:

    If you’re trying to figure out if a kid is at risk of a genetic disease, why test the father when you could just test the kid? That’s the most sure-fire way to find out what genes the kid carries, and there’s no need to compare the kid’s genes with those of the father.

    OTOH, if a man and woman are undergoing genetic screening before having kids, because they’re worried about passing on diseases to their kids, well, no kids have been born yet, so no unexpected paternity results.

    And, if the whole family is undergoing screening to see who’s at risk and who isn’t, there’s no need to compare the kid with the father.

    Of course, it might get awkward if the doctor says to the kid “You have 2 copies of this gene”, says to the mother “You have 1 copy of this gene” and says to the father “You have no copy of this gene.” (Or the kid has one copy and the mother and alleged father both have zero copies, raising the awkward question of where the kid got it from.)

    In cases like that, the family could always elect to simply find out who is at risk of the disease and who isn’t, and leave these counting issues alone. Or the family could elect for full disclosure. Since medical information is supposed to be private, I guess it would all depend on who agreed to have what disclosed to whom. Although, if the kid is not a legal adult (please, let’s all step slowly away from that hot potato) it would come down to what the parents decided they wanted revealed.

    Anyway, the question seems to be moot unless the whole family is trying to find out as much as possible about their genetic risk factors. And even in that case, it would only be an issue if the number of genes was explicitly revealed and it didn’t quite add up.

  14. Put a box on the medical forms to be checked and leave it at that. I agree, laws are unnecessary here, they always tend to complicate matters and someone always gets screwed.

  15. What size font on the opt-in, Joe: 8 pt or 18 pt?

  16. I recognize that you are indeed telling the truth Jeff.

    Now about these dental bills I have here…

  17. “And, one might add, about a mother taking responsiblity for being a lying ho.”

    Or, rather, the kid taking that responsibility.

  18. Jeff, are you saying that you had a child by another woman and passed it off as my own? Shame on you.

  19. I will pay no dental bills. I will, however, remove any teeth that require it. Ditto for bone-setting and reconstructive surgery.
    If you inherited any of my genes, you will require all three in large amounts.

    I expect much scotch on Fathers Day.
    This can be paid in full at Jennifer’s NYC get together in September.

  20. I can just imagine it now:

    “What do you mean my kid has this rare disease? Nobody in my family has ever experienced that! Are you sure the test is accurate? The only person I’ve ever met who has that disease is that guy my wife used to work with, and that was…um, 9 months before Junior was born. Hey!”

  21. I agree with joe. Outside of the particular parameters of an actual paternity test, there is no reason to reveal this information unless the family requests it. Too many children already get punished for the transgressions of their parents.

  22. My seed floods the shallows of the gene pool. I am a wet, sticky front moving across the country. An El Nino of spunk. Cervixes cover at my approach.

    Even Don Ho envies me.

  23. I vote yes.

    Both mother and father have every right to know their children’s medical test results.

    Put it another way, would a mother deserve to know if her child from an in-vitro fertilization was the result of the wrong egg being used with her husband’s sperm?

  24. I support paternity testing at birth as a requirement for putting a father’s name on a birth certificate.

  25. Jennifer,

    “This isn’t about avoiding responsibility for the children you’ve fathered–this is about avoiding responsibility for the children someone else has fathered.”

    If you were the father in that child’s life from ages zero to six, you are the father, whatever arcane definition of the verb you choose to use. If the man the kid has lived with, leared to walk with, and bonded with when he was just a squalling infant leaves his life, disowns him, then that man has inflicted one of the most horrible punishments imaginable on an innocent child.

    You kneel down and explain why daddy’s not coming back.

  26. If the really important thing is to see to it that kids don’t grow up without fathers, why don’t we take all the kids without fathers in America and assign them to fathers without kids, whether they want kids or not?

    Possibly we refrain from doing that because it would be unfair for men to be forced to raise kids that weren’t theirs.

    That is also the unfairness being rectified here.

    By the way, what is the italics tag for posting here? It doesn’t seem to be [i] [/i].

  27. fluffy,

    This is no about inventing bonds between strangers. This is about whether or not to break bonds that have been forged over the course of years, and that are fundamental to an individual’s identity.

  28. Without reading all the prior posts, this might be a reepeet, but…

    My vote: IT DEPENDS.

    It depends on whether the doctor/testing agency is coopted or contracted by the government, or if it’s completely independent.

    If it’s got gubmintal repucussions, then the answer is YES. If it’s completely independent, and the customer & provider are entering into a contract voluntarily, then NO.

    That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be some kind of accepted industry code of ethics (Hippocratic Oath?) which should dictate what these offices do, regardless of the law.

  29. Joe, your speak of “bonds” is all well and good, but what if there is no real emotional bond? What if they hate each other, and the kid is leeching off the father, but the father capitulates because he thinks it’s his? Shouldn’t he be notified?

  30. This is no about inventing bonds between strangers. This is about whether or not to break bonds that have been forged over the course of years, and that are fundamental to an individual’s identity.

    I trust the cuckolded non-biological father to decide this. That is the pro-choice position. The cuckolded non-biological father is in the best position to make this decision in so far as it affects his bonds and his relationships. No one is forcing the cuckolded non-biological father to split, just as no one can force the biological mother to abort. My body, my bonds, my choice.

  31. Hey, we air two hours of Maury Povich a day here at my station. The guy is NEVER the father.

  32. “If the man the kid has lived with, leared to walk with, and bonded with when he was just a squalling infant leaves his life, disowns him, then that man has inflicted one of the most horrible punishments imaginable on an innocent child.”

    Actually, it seems to me that the ones “inflicting” this trauma on the kid are the woman and her accomplice in the cuckolding.

    If they weren’t willing to lie to and humiliate the party of the first part [and, if the evolutionary biologists are correct, to habitually do this as part of a “reproductive strategy to maximize resources available to offspring”] for six years, the situation would never arise.

  33. I guess the bottom line is that if they only test the kid then it’s fine. But if the whole family elects to be tested then the doctors should be upfront: “Look, even if we only look at disease-related genes and don’t do a formal paternity test, we might get some unexpected surprises if the kid has 2 copies of the gene but one of you isn’t a carrier. You have to decide just how much info you want to examine.”

    If the doctors don’t warn them in advance and then an unpleasant surprise is sprung, the family might always decide to sue the doctor for helping to break up the family. And the suit might be baseless (“Where in the contract did it say I’d keep secrets from you?”), but people can sue anyway and cause hassle.

    And if the doctors uncover a surprise and decide to keep it to themselves, they could always be sued later. And the suit might be baseless (“Where in the contract did it say we’d report anything other than disease?”) but it would be a hassle.

    And there’s no way for the doctors to say “We didn’t discuss this in advance, but we uncovered something that you need to decide whether you want to know. It’s kind of uncomfortable.” Because once you put that out there, you’re basically giving it away anyhow.

    So the doctors really have to put this issue up-front and ask how parents would like to handle any surprises that might arise.

    Say what you will about principles, but that’s the bottom line. Surprises can occur, and the doctors should just ask how people want to handle surprises before they do the tests.

  34. I’m all for voluntary and/or optional disclosure here — I don’t think any commenter has been or will be opposed to those private choices — but the only body that can “require” disclosure is Johnny Law. And there’s no case to make for government involvement in this area. Zilch.

  35. Evan, “Joe, your speak of “bonds” is all well and good, but what if there is no real emotional bond?” In a situation in which the male parent was never a figure in the kid’s life, that changes things. I’m not sure how you take that into account without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    “What if they hate each other, and the kid is leeching off the father, but the father capitulates because he thinks it’s his?” Kids leech off their parents. Kids often hate their parents, especially from ages 12-17. It doesn’t matter.

  36. “By the way, what is the italics tag for posting here?”

    You need to use the “greater-than/less-than” symbols around the code instead of brackets.

  37. No way. The should tell the customer only what the customer contracted them to. The information disclosure parameters should be determined upfront. In addition, the testers should discard any information they are not contractually entitled to hold.

  38. Joe-

    Do you think the lying slut mothers have any responsibility in this? Do you also think that the actual biological father should have any responsibility? Or is being forced to raise a child not your own an acceptable penalty for a man who makes the mistake of marrying a lying adulterous whore?

  39. Though I’m all for compulsory disclosure of stem cells, since stem cells are obviously babies.

  40. “One by whom a child is or has been begotten”-OED. is that an arcane definition of fatherhood? Further if the bonds you speak of a real then knowing the mother isn’t entirely truthful shouldn’t mean you want to abandon the child. Moreover, your argument sounds a lot like an arguement for forbiding divorce in general, even in cases of adultery (as many of these cases would be).

  41. “I trust the cuckolded non-biological father to decide this. That is the pro-choice position.”

    Sure, if you consider the destruction of an intact family to be no different than its preservation, this is a perfectly moral position. Of if by “trust” you mean “accept that his decision to split is just as good as his decision to say.” Or if you consider giving a guy who’s raised a kid as his own for years the option to dump him, or not, to be your primary interest, and the actual outcome of that choice to be of secondary interest, that’s just fine.

    But you don’t “trust” men in that position to always make the right choice (meaning, you aren’t an idiot). Otherwise, there would be no discussion here, as calculating the odds of genetic diseases would be the only issue this raises. The only thing you “trust” is that the daddy will make the choice that he thinks is best for him. Well, that’s not the appropriate standard.

  42. I’m actually harsh enough to favor putting the moms in jail for fraud.

  43. No, and MP and thoreau said it more eloquently than I’ve the energy for.

  44. “No one is forcing the cuckolded non-biological father to split, just as no one can force the biological mother to abort.” The retreating dad is forcing the child to live with the aftermath of being thrown away.

    “My body, my bonds, my choice.” They’re not your bonds. They’re, primarily, the child’s bonds. Tell you what, how about we let her choose. “This guy here isn’t actually your genetic father, Tammy. He’s just been living with you and raising you like a father for the first eight years of your life. Now that you know that, would you like him to no longer be in your life?”

  45. Tell me, joe: if you were to find out that your daughter is not your biological child, wouldn’t you want to know? No presumption here that you would leave – wouldn’t you want the knowledge? Don’t you think you would have the right to know?

  46. ‘Actually, it seems to me that the ones “inflicting” this trauma on the kid are the woman and her accomplice in the cuckolding.

    ‘If they weren’t willing to lie to and humiliate the party of the first part [and, if the evolutionary biologists are correct, to habitually do this as part of a “reproductive strategy to maximize resources available to offspring”] for six years, the situation would never arise.’

    Fine, slap the mother in the head. I fail to see why this argument justifies harming an innocent child. Didn’t we abandon visiting the sins of the parents on the child a few centuries ago?

    Jennifer, if the biological father can be found, he would certainly have responsibility.

    “Or is being forced to raise a child not your own an acceptable penalty for a man who makes the mistake of marrying a lying adulterous whore?” The only one whose “penalty” should be considered here is the child. Your pottymouth notwithstanding, nothing you’ve described justifies ruining a kid’s life. Being a father is not a life-ruining punishment. Being thrown away by your daddy is.

    hunter, did you just ask me if a definition that has, at its core, the word “begotten” is arcane? I’m thinking yes.

  47. Ah, I see . . . the people arguing that the families should be told whether they request it or not consider breaking up a stable home to be preferable to allowing lying, adulterous whores to escape their comeuppances. What’s a kid’s mental and emotional health worth when there’s some moral superiority to assert? Huh, guys, am I right?

  48. It’s the technological flipside of the old, “a mother always knows.” Is it too much for that knowledge to go both ways? I’m for voluntary (non)disclolure. If protecting the childs perception of these alleged “bonds” trumps both the right of the father to act on truthfull information, and for the mother to face the qonsequences of her actions then I’m baffled. But what about the common cases where these tests are taken very early in life, before these relationships grow in the first place?

  49. “Or is being forced to raise a child not your own an acceptable penalty for a man who makes the mistake of marrying a lying adulterous whore?”

    Yes. It is. There’s a shit you agree to when you get married. She might divorce you and take half your stuff. She might make you hang wallpaper on the hottest day in July. She might get really, really fat.

    David W, “No one is forcing the cuckolded non-biological father to split…” That’s a nice parting shot on your way out the door. “By the way, kid, nobody’s forcing me to dump you. I’m choosing to do it of my own free will, because I want to. Have a nice life.”

  50. This may be a repeat post, since I suspect the server’s on the fritz again, but here goes: I’d actually support the idea of putting these moms in jail for fraud.

    And Joe, I like kids and I agree they should have rights (for example, I completely oppose laws which suggest kids are somehow their parents’ “property”), but you’re basically saying kids are SO important that as soon as they turn 18 they should give up some of their rights in favor of the younger generation. You’re talking about forcing a man who’s already been defrauded to spend a huge amount of time and money raising a child that isn’t even his. A blame-the-victim mentality if ever I heard one. The idea that avoiding hurt to an innocent child must be done at all costs–even when it means hurting an innocent adult–sounds similar in spirit to those people who are so anti-abortion that they won’t even let rape victims get them.

  51. Tell me, joe: if you were to find out that your daughter is not your biological child, wouldn’t you want to know? No presumption here that you would leave – wouldn’t you want the knowledge? Don’t you think you would have the right to know?

    Having the right to know is not the same as being forced to know.

  52. Joe,
    Disclosure might have bad consequences whether it is required by law or happens at the request of the parents. Your position would seem to suggest that the doctor should actually conceal this information from the parents, to eliminate the risk that the family will be torn apart by the knowledge. Do you advocate not allowing people to know this kind of information if it is available, given the possible consequences? Or do you just feel people should be told under some circumstances and not others?

  53. Joe’s right Evan, it doesn’t matter. And if it does matter in a particular case then the pissed off father-that-isn’t can arrange for his own results or ask the lab out right because it isn’t the lab’s job to straighten things out (good and hard, got dam it), or to rub anybody’s nose in past mistakes, or set the morality bar for anybody else.

    The libertarian creed is to mind your own dam business and let others make their own arrangements. Odds are that guy probably already knows anyway. Just leave him alone.

    Reminds me of those idiotic 12-steppers that get to step 5 and fess up to how many people they boinked when they were stewed. But I’m clean and sober now, hon. Yer filin’ for divorce? But why?

  54. just wondering, “if you were to find out that your daughter is not your biological child, wouldn’t you want to know?”

    If I found out, without seeking the information out, I probably would consider the information very important, and might make multiple-life altering decisions based on that. That’s why it would be best for me not to know.

    “You’d be free to choose” would be pretty hollow here. I can choose to feel miserable and betrayed, or I can choose to ruin my little boo’s life. Thanks for the choice, Dr. Asshole.

  55. Joe,

    You sound like an anti-choicer ragging on unwed female biological parents. Nevertheless, since I have some degree I sympathy for anti-choicers, I also have a degree of sympathy for what you are arguing.

    However, I still end up pro-non-biological-father’s-choice. I think where we differ is that you are focussing too much on situations where the father has already put in time and identity and all that.

    My focus is broader and includes consideration of mothers and enablers who would start up such a deceitful scheme in the first place. The more likely it is that the mother thinks she will get caught, the less likely it is that she will have illicit sex, fail to abort earlier (where she chooses), lie to the purported father during her pregnancy and basically do all the other things she needs to do to create the tragic situation that you are trying to deal with.

    My guess is that creating incentives to honest mothers will decrease the number of tragic situations where families are living a genetic lie. I am willing to create these incentives even if there is some level of “cost” (for lack of a better word) to existing families.

    I think our differences will continue because: (1) you are guarding against tangible, detectable harm; and (2) I am guarding against harms whose obviation will generally not be detected. I am sympathetic to your concerns. I bet you are sympathetic to my Freakonomics (you’re a planner for gosh sakes!). the problem is: how can we balance our concerns against each other when we know we will never get good info about how many tragedies (if any) my plan would save.

  56. I don’t think such a requirement would result in a rash of broken families, at least no more than we have now. It would likely, in the long run, be a big step in making marriage and child-rearing a less common pillar of society, which would be a good thing.

    Plus, the many men who have put thier lives on hold to raise a child out of guilt might have some vindication.

    When dependable home DNA tests are made available (which won’t be that long, folks) there will be great outcry and strife over the nature of parenthood. This, too, will be a good thing.

  57. Having the right to know is not the same as being forced to know.

    With this and joe’s answer, I presently begin to understand. Although I am still not sure I agree, I do see your point and it is a valid one.

  58. Geez, did Joe actually write the opinion in Michael H. and not Scalia?

    🙂

  59. Your arguments are superfluous.
    They all belong to me.

  60. Jennifer,

    The victimhood of an abandoned child trumps that of a perfectly happy father. Neener neener neener.

    LisaMarie, I don’t know. The question was “should doctors be forced to reveal this information.” That’s easy. Even “should doctors avoid disclosing this information unless specifically asked” is easy. But it does get harder after that.

    David W, “My guess is that creating incentives to honest mothers will decrease the number of tragic situations where families are living a genetic lie.” Spare me your “tragic genetic lie,” Captian Testicles. What would be so tragic about the father never finding out – someone who doesn’t share his chromosomes might inherit his estate, after a long an fufilling life as pater familia? That doesn’t weigh too heavily against the damage this would do to the kid.

  61. “Fine, slap the mother in the head. I fail to see why this argument justifies harming an innocent child. Didn’t we abandon visiting the sins of the parents on the child a few centuries ago?”

    That wasn’t my point, Joe.

    My point was that even if we can establish that having the false-father walk out is a harm to the child, and therefore feel we can establish that causing this event is immoral, we still have to determine whose immorality it is, exactly.

    My point was that the cause of the harm, and the moral blame, belong to the woman and her paramour, in their entirety, and not to the cuckold.

    Personally I fully agree with you that being abandoned by the person you thought was your father is a trauma and a harm, and I fully agree with you that the person who is responsible for that event has been guilty of an ethical lapse. I just think we have to properly identify the person[s] responsible – and that ain’t the “false” father.

    [Thank you for the assistance with italics, SR.]

  62. Two thoughts:

    1) It would be interesting to know how many false “parental discrepancies” are identified — that is, how often it happens that it appears that there is a parental discrepancy when in fact it’s just a mixup or a testing error. If that’s pretty common, that would militate in favor of not requiring disclosure.

    (By analogy, one reason to oppose en masse drug testing plans is that there will be a significant number of false positives that will lead to loads of pain and trouble for the unwitting testees, and it’s not worth inflicting that on innocent people even if you are really interested in finding a few stoners. Likewise, even if it is a good idea for genuine parental discrepancies to be disclosed, it might not be worth it if it would lead to a lot of pain and suffering in false positive families.)

    2) Note that there is a doctor-patient privilege between the doctor and the child. The parent usually has the power to waive the privilege on behalf of the child — for example, so the doctor can tell the parent what’s wrong with the child and what treatment ought to be considered. The parent does not have the power to waive the child’s privilege when doing so would be against the child’s interest. Except in unusual cases, I cannot imagine that it would be in a child’s interest to put in question the paternity of the man who believes himself to be the child’s father. The upshot is that under current law, I don’t think that parents can waive a child’s privilege so that a doctor could disclose a parental discrepancy.

  63. NO.

    In such matters, “ignorance is bliss.”

  64. Joe,
    So when unfortunate information is discovered it should be suppressed for the good of the people. Like when a man thinks he’s the father but isn’t, and knowledge of this may worsen teh childs situation. Or when a government is torturing prisoners and knowledge of this may undermine the agenda of the country. Or when any number of studies come out against some other policy. It just doesn’t seem right to me to actively suppress information to achieve an ideal.

  65. The State,

    Something like, “All your babies are belong to me”?

  66. joe,

    I find it telling that you believe that people should not have access to certain information because you believe that they will not make the “correct” i.e. the joe approved, choice. It is a rather arrogant and condescending attitude that you know what information people do or do not need about one the most important aspects in their lives.

    Neither as individuals or as a collective do we have the right or the responsibility to keep others ignorant based entirely on our judgement of whether they will act correctly on the information.

  67. I predict that the argument will devolve to:

    We must (by law) not inform the parents if a parental deficit exists otherwise naughty mommies will avoid seeking proper treatment for genetic maladies of the children they think might be Uncle Ned’s.

  68. He’s not a “false father,” fluffy. He is the Dad. I don’t intend to let you steal bases with your terminology.

    “I just think we have to properly identify the person[s] responsible – and that ain’t the “false” father.” Why is this so important? The question is, “harm” the father vs. “harm” the child. What does clarifying the blame of the mother have to do with this?

    But to answer your question, whoever breaks up a happy family has the blood on their hands. Spilling the secret could break up a happy family, so DON’T DO IT!

  69. I was born a poor black child…

  70. TWC,
    If I remember correctly (it’s been a long time) the twelve steps involve making amends only when making those amends will not cause further emotional harm or trouble (say traumatizing a child or landing yourself in jail). Of course, many twelve steppers are idiots and don’t comprehend that part. The actual sentiment of the twelve steps is quite wise and, I think, appropriate to the circumstance we are discussing.

  71. Joe,

    Those days where the non-biological father never found out are gone. Often the father will find out, often in the context of custody or support hearings. These are the problemmatic situations I am trying to prevent. Sure, it is relevant that sometimes the lie is complete and no one is harmed (except for the non-biological parent, who apparently has zero valid intersts anyway). It is also relevant that the lie is sometimes caught, and will be caught more often in the future as paternity tests become quicker and cheaper. In other words, you may have discounted the (unknown and unknowable) frequency of the primary harm I seek to guard against, but you haven’t gotten rid of it and arguably, you haven’t even made that much of a discount because your observations are based in the old world of expensive, slow paternity tests.

    Also, no need to call me “Captain Testicles.” Imagine if you called pro-choice women Wombed Avengers or something like that. Not respectful discourse. I expect better out of you.

  72. Nah, ignorance is ignorance. And as many kids being raised right now are going to enter adulthood twice as dumb as shit, I really can’t muster up any sympathy for them

  73. I vote…I dunno…but I lean towards mandatory disclosure

    I don’t think too many people that really believe the kid is theirs are going to ask this type of question if there isn’t some sort of suspicion.

    My experience has been that most people who deal with medical persons don’t always know the right questions to ask or even what many possibilities are and they expect the doctor to tell them something if its important. And I don’t think the “well you never asked” position is proper. I mean if we are doing these kinds of screenings isn’t that discrepancy part of the results? Why should that piece be omitted ?

    joe, in response to some of your comments:
    I just can’t get behind the whole “its for the children” schtick. Tough luck if the dad decides to leave because of it. Many children wind up in single parent homes (I grew up in one). Why does this child get more protection than the father does? Or more protection than other kids of divorced parents?? It would seem that although it would be a shame if the non-bio father did decide to leave after forming a bond, he should still have the option shouldn’t he? Esp if its a case where he is only doing what he is doing because he wanted to do “the right thing”. Why should this man be forced to be responsible for someone else child? If I were the victim of this kind of deception for quite some time, Id be pretty pissed at everyone who kept it from me.

    Why is it so acceptable to treat fathers as the lowest rung on the family totem pole?

  74. Err Brain fart — the last line should be :

    Why is it so acceptable to treat fathers as the lowest rung on the family ladder?

  75. It has to be said: Captain Testicles nemesis is the dreaded (yet strangely compelling) Tea Bagger!

    TB: Ah, Captain, I see you’re hanging around again!
    CT: Oh, Bagger, no need to be so tongue-in-cheek.

    And so on…

  76. Another side of this issue:

    If the parents are divorcing, can the mother use the non-paternity of the father as evidence to deny custody rights?

  77. So, help me out here:

    1) Is anybody actually arguing in favor of mandatory disclosure? As far as I can tell, everybody here seems to agree that when the parents take the kid in for genetic testing, they should be able to indicate one way or another whether they’d like a paternity test done?

    Am I wrong? Does somebody here actually think that a paternity test should be conducted and reported if the parties involved didn’t agree to it?

    If not, what is everybody fighting over?

    2) As I said, even if they don’t do an explicit paternity test, and instead just focus on disease-related genes, some surprises could occur. “Well, neither of you carry this gene, yet your kid has a copy of it. Hmm…” So doctors might do well to ask in advance how much info the parents want along those lines.

    3) Does anybody here actually know how labs in the US handle this? As long as we’re arguing over this, it might be nice to know how things are actually done.

  78. Many states now literally recognize the concept of “constructive fatherhood.” This means that a man who raises a child as a father for a given length of time, which can be as short as a year, is legally considered the father even though it is later revealed that he is not the biological father. The biological deadbeat father is then completely let off of the hook because it is “in the best interests of the child” to declare the caregiving male the father. Men now can find that their wives had an affair and they are not the father of the woman’s children and be forced to pay child support and punished for not being a deadbeat, while the real father gets off scott free. Its a seriously screwed up system.

  79. joe:

    What if this information were discovered before the baby was born? Would you change your stance then? Also, would doctor-patient privilege still be in effect with the unborn child?

  80. “I just think we have to properly identify the person[s] responsible – and that ain’t the “false” father.” Why is this so important? The question is, “harm” the father vs. “harm” the child. What does clarifying the blame of the mother have to do with this?

    Silly me, I thought that the purpose of ethical analysis was so that we could know who was guilty of immoral action and who wasn’t.

    It is NOT a matter of measuring the “harm” to the cuckold [how about we just use that word, since it’s the only one with a specific meaning here that identifies which “father” we mean?] against the “harm” to the child. We also have to know who is GUILTY of the harm to the child before we can decide which actions are permitted morally, and which actions are not.

    We have to decide whether or not the cuckold walking out is immoral. You say it is, because the child will be harmed. I say it is not, because the act of walking out is not the act that attaches culpability for causing the harm – the original act of cuckolding is. When the cuckold walks out and the harm to the child is created, the moral status of the cuckold does not change – any guilt that should accrue for the harm to the child goes into the mother’s account.

  81. I support paternity testing at birth as a requirement for putting a father’s name on a birth certificate.

    Right on!

    You kneel down and explain why daddy’s not coming back.

    Daddies are highly overrated – I did just fine without one.

  82. Don’t Know about the mother Eric, but the father could certainly use the test results as evidence of adultery. Oh, and Joe, arcane and archaic are not the same thing.

  83. Why is it so acceptable to treat fathers as the lowest rung on the family totem pole?

    I guess the logic is that the family is more important than an individual within the family (geez that sounds so Santorum).

    There are benefits to being a guy. there is also a downside which includes the possibility that your mate might father someone else’s child on your dime. That’s just the breaks when you aren’t the one who gets pregnant. I’m all for transparency, but I would actively scorn any man I found had abandoned a child who was merely guilty of not carrying some of his genetic make-up. A certain amount of stoicism would be called for, I think.
    Full disclosure: I have a stepkid. It has done me no harm. Unless you are emotionally retarded, the chance to have a positive effect on a child’s life should be coveted.

  84. No, doctors and testing centers shouldn’t be required to tell fathers and children of any paternal discrepancy. I don’t think the government has any compelling reason to force health care providers into what could be an ugly fray.

  85. For further clarification:

    joe-

    If the parents request the information should disclosure still be illegal?

    If your answer is “yes”, well, obviously I disagree. If your answer is “no”, why is everybody beating up on you?

  86. We have to decide whether or not the cuckold walking out is immoral. You say it is, because the child will be harmed. I say it is not, because the act of walking out is not the act that attaches culpability for causing the harm – the original act of cuckolding is. When the cuckold walks out and the harm to the child is created, the moral status of the cuckold does not change – any guilt that should accrue for the harm to the child goes into the mother’s account.

    I think you are spot-on, fluffy. joe’s reasoning seems to be based on the fact that the damage to the “father” has already been done, so why hurt the child needlessly (at least I think that’s the reasoning). I can kind of agree with that logic, from a reality-based view, but I will not agree with making the “father” the bad guy in this hypothetical situation. And preventing a lab from disclosing information such as this inorder to maintain a certain someone’s sense of social order is sickening.

  87. I am a biomedical researcher who often genotypes parents and children. We simply tell the parents that we may discover nonpaternity, and that they shouldn’t participate if they don’t want to find out anything untoward.

  88. John writes:

    Many states now literally recognize the concept of “constructive fatherhood.” This means that a man who raises a child as a father for a given length of time, which can be as short as a year, is legally considered the father even though it is later revealed that he is not the biological father.

    To clarify a bit, this is a very old concept that dates back to the time (not so long ago) where paternity could not be conclusively proven or disproven. Some courts have been asked in recent years to say whether this rule still holds in light of advances in medical technology; all of those courts (unless I’m mistaken) have said that it does.

  89. thoreau said:
    … they should be able to indicate one way or another whether they’d like a paternity test done?

    To add to the question,….
    Would both parents have to consent? What if the father wants it but the mom doesn’t consent?

    What if “dad” is afraid to ask because the might alienate him from his wife (if the test prove he is in fact the biological father) ?

    I do agree that optional seems the most logical approach, but there seem to be some instances where it becomes a tricky propostion to inquire unless its “automatic”. Would’t requesting a paternity test be a bit of a slap in the face to a faithful spouse?

  90. No takers for SR’s idea of routine paternity tests at birth? It would eliminate the horror of Daddy walking out later on… right?

  91. “I support paternity testing at birth as a requirement for putting a father’s name on a birth certificate.”

    And who’s going to pay for that test? This sounds like another unfunded mandate, like the proposal by then-Representative Tom Coburn to require every newborn in the country be tested for HIV.

  92. I’m not going to take up SR’s idea. There are valid reasons why a husband would let his wife be impregnated by another man’s sperm. There is no need to complicate an already difficult series decisions.

  93. “It just doesn’t seem right to me to actively suppress information to achieve an ideal.”

    This isn’t about an ideal. It’s about real, actual, concrete families. You are arguing the lofty ideal side – personal autonomy is good, the truth shall set you free. I’m down here in the mud, looking at a little kid not understanding why daddy doesn’t love him anymore.

    You can waive your hands all you want, Shannon. You can put “correct” in scare quotes and call it the joe-approved choice. You’re still talking about daddies walking out on their kids, and none of your wriggling is going to get you off that hook. Take your collective blah blah blah and shove it – it is evil to break up families.

    David W., custody and support hearings happen when the family is already being broken up.

    “Why is it so acceptable to treat fathers as the lowest rung on the family totem pole?” Because there really are people standing on their shoulders. Little kids. If he leaves, they fall. That’s why. That’s the deal you sign up for when you become a father.

    John, I agree that that system is screwed up. The sperm provider should still be on the hook financially.

    jf, since my argument is based on family bonds, yes, the discovery of this information before birth would make a big difference. It’s not ideal to be born to a single mom, but it is orders of magnitude worse to be thrown away by your dad.

    Silly you, fluffy. While you’ve been playing “Who’s the baddie,” we’ve been arguing about what is the right thing to do. Play with your accounts all you want. There are actual children at stake here.

    “how about we just use that word, since it’s the only one with a specific meaning here that identifies which “father” we mean” No, Dad and Daddy do the best job of defining who we mean. A guy who met and quickly married his wife the week after she was raped could find himself in this situation, but he is not a cuckold.

    And she is neither a slut nor a whore, JENNIFER.

    Rhwyun, ear rings are overrated. I’ve done just fine without one. But I bet it hurts like a bitch to have one ripped out of your earlobe.

  94. In 1996, I met a woman with two kids and we were married 3 years later. The youngest was three, when I met my future ex-wife. The bio father had little to do with the children and I was the only parent that the youngest had known.

    Despite offering to continue to help with the children after the divorce, my ex completely cut me out of their lives. I haven’t seen them for over three years now.

    The kind of childhood trauma that is being mentioned in these posts as an excuse to keep fathers in the dark, is exactly the same as what happened to my ex-step-children. Yet, I am all for full disclosure.

    This sort of trauma happens often in our society and is becoming the norm. To perpetrate a lie for the sake of preventing a normal and common childhood trauma is silly.

    As far as walking away from parental duties, it looks like states such as California are still forcing ex-biological-parents to pay support. Canada has gone so far as to require step-parents to pay child support, if they committed the unspeakable crime of helping to parent the children.

    California is so bad that the welfare agents force mothers to name fathers, which are often made up. They then can’t track them down. They hold a hearing and the court orders a default judgment. Amazingly they are then able to track someone down with that name, and start garnishing wages.

    Our family law is a travesty that fails to protect due process rights. “Think of the children” is a tired and overused argument. Their rights don’t trump those of others as “All Men are Created Equal.”

  95. Routine paternity tests at birth would only impose unnecessary added costs to health care, though it could be a nice little boondoggle for the labs I supposed. Four million births at what, $150 plus for the test…

  96. I’m still trying to figure out what everybody is upset about. Do we all agree that:

    1) A paternity test should be done if the relevant parties request it? (I’m leaving some wiggle room on whether the kid has a say and whether one or both parents are needed.)

    2) If the relevant parties don’t request a paternity test, nobody should conduct one?

    3) If the lab only tests for disease-related genes, but something embarassing comes up (“Neither of you is a carrier, but this little girl has a gene for such-and-such disease. Hmm…”), that information should be handled as delicately as possible within the terms of the original agreement?

    (“Your daughter has only one copy of the gene, so she won’t get sick.” “If we have more kids, could any of them receive two copies of it?” “Nope.”)

    Really, unless somebody disagrees with those points, I don’t see what the fuss is.

  97. It’s good to know Reason is hitting the retro trend by running it’s comments server on a Commodore Vic-20.

  98. I support that, Rhywun. In order for you to be able to claim all of the privileges (irk) and responsibilities of being a father, something that means a lot in this society (i.e. taxes, child support, etc.) you should have to demonstrate that you are the father.

    And I agree that the slut wife/girlfriend is ALONE responsible for the harm because she knows she’s involved, whereas her fleabag lover may not. But both are responsible for bringing in a child, and therefore should be forced to take care of it in some fashion.

    If I were involved with the child, I would not let genetic testing ruin that relationship. My cheating wife, however, would be on her ass faster than you can say “but honey I was drunk”. I would press for sole custody…no child deserves to be raised by a lying whore. I mean, if she can’t keep her vows together, how can she promise she’s going to take care of the kid?

  99. “Silly you, fluffy. While you’ve been playing “Who’s the baddie,” we’ve been arguing about what is the right thing to do. Play with your accounts all you want. There are actual children at stake here.”

    That is like saying that if the gas station down the street is robbed, the gas station owner should be able to come and get me to give him the money he lost in the robbery.

    Why argue about who actually robbed the store? Play with your accounts of who is and isn’t guilty all you want. There is an actual gas station owner with an actual loss to be remedied here.

    There are, in fact, actual children who may be harmed here. And we should identify the persons guilty for causing that harm and hold them morally accountable. What we should not do is delude ourselves that the presence of harm means we can morally attach someone who is not responsible for the harm. We can’t. The harm that the child suffers is lamentable, but no more morally the responsibility of the cuckold than the harm suffered by any one of the billion other children in the world suffering that day through no fault of the cuckold’s.

  100. A guy who met and quickly married his wife the week after she was raped could find himself in this situation, but he is not a cuckold. And she is neither a slut nor a whore, JENNIFER.

    I see, Joe. All these women are RAPE victims.

  101. “If I were involved with the child, I would not let genetic testing ruin that relationship.”

    That is a noble and appropriate sentiment, Ayn Randian. I hope I would feel the same way if I found myself in that situation.

    But I wouldn’t go crowing about it without being in those shoes. There are powerful psycho-biological factors at play here. If you spring this information on a dad, you are putting him in a situation of moral torture, and it has been proven time and time again that even good men cannot always make themselves behave in the most noble manner.

    For all of your sturm und drang about the rights of the cuckolded, fluffy, that is what you are advocating – putting men in that position, subjecting them to being torm apart by two of the most powerful drives that play within the human psyche. But, ooh, it sure would be good to show one of those lying whores how bad she is, eh?

  102. Julian!
    What Tim?
    Get more coal for the comments server! Sub-bituminous or better! Bailey says it will be OK for the ventiliation in the office.

  103. “I see, Joe. All these women are RAPE victims.”

    It wasn’t I making broad statements about their character and situation, Jennifer. That was you.

  104. I need someone to call “Slut Mommy.”
    Quickly please. I won’t last long, here.

  105. Sorry if I’m so testicular Joe. I know it’s annecdotal and all but a large part of my experience of this sort of thing is through my cousin. The guy was dating this single mother (never really like her myself). They didn’t get married but were living together for 2 years. She was a terrible person to him, on the order of hitting him and stuff, but mostly just constant berrating and nagging. He stuck through it because he loved the kid so much. Finally she decides to leave him, he’s stuck with child support (brought to you thanks to the great state of California) and also denied parenting rights (because he’s not biological). Furthermore, after loosing his job the payments keep piling up (hey, it’s not the kids fault he lost the job), even though were it his biological child and were he married, the kid wouldn’t have access to that income in the first place. It just strikes me as truly fucked up.

  106. Joe–

    The point is, when I suggested that women be penalized for defrauding their husbands, your response was “yeah, but the women might be rape victims.” And you still haven’t answered the question of why you believe fathers–or, rather, husbands–deserve no rights in these cases. In the name of morality, you’re letting women get away with immorality (fraud), all for the sake of The Children?

  107. Joe says:

    whoever breaks up a happy family has the blood on their hands. Spilling the secret could break up a happy family, so DON’T DO IT!

    and

    This isn’t about an ideal. It’s about real, actual, concrete families.

    My expereince is that real, actual, concrete families that contain a mother who has cheated and a father who distrusts the mother (why else choose to know the paternity info) are generally not “happy”.

  108. Actually, Joe, the principle at issue is very important.

    One might say it is the core moral issue of our day.

    I am advocating for the notion that practical responsibility should follow moral blame – that one should only be called to account to remedy harms when one is morally responsible for that harm.

    You are advocating for the notion that we should seek always to minimize harms to the extent that we can, and if that means making doing so the responsibility of someone who is not morally to blame, so be it.

    This dispute has ramifications that go far beyond this particular case.

    So I guess in one sense you’re right. I would, in fact, find it “good to show one of those lying whores how bad she is” – or better, at least, than the alternative, which would be to reinforce the general implications of your position. The proper assignment of moral blame is a more salutary outcome then a state of minimum harm achieved by permitting liars to successfully lie.

  109. There are, of course, different scenarios that might play out. For instance:

    “Your child needs a new kidney, Dad, but you aren’t a suitable donor. But–uh–if I can speak to Mom privately she might be able to come up with someone.”

    In the real world, I think Jeff has the edge. Technology will answer the question as soon as genetic testing becomes as routine as today’s CAT scan.

  110. thoreau writes:

    1) A paternity test should be done if the relevant parties request it? (I’m leaving some wiggle room on whether the kid has a say and whether one or both parents are needed.)

    But the exercise of consent on the child’s behalf is the whole ball game, isn’t it? Absent unusual circumstances, a child can only lose from disproving paternity. Can you take a DNA sample from a child so that you can perform a test that can only harm the child?

  111. Captain Awesome

    What do you mean about child support? As far as I know, California is terrible, but that they haven’t gotten to step-parent child support yet.

    Is the new standard that you have to support all the single mothers you meet? Seriously though, was it declared a common law marrage? Did she claim he was the father and it wasn’t denied? What are the specifics?

    I am never dating a woman with children again. I don’t even want them to know my name.

  112. Joe,
    You’re exaggerating the harmful consequences to a child of growing up fatherless, because you’re accepting uncritically the faulty social science that claims that a child’s social development depends mainly on its relationship with its parents.

    Independent scholar Judith Rich Harris has debunked this notion in The Nurture Assumption. This book is not very popular, because it slaughters many sacred cows of both the Right and the Left. If Harris’ insights were widely accepted, conservatives would have to abandon the argument that same-sex couples are a bad influence on kids, while liberals would have to give up their feel-good hokum about how reading to your child makes him smarter. Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin, and now Harris.

    Now for a shameless plug: A while back, I published a post on my blog that explains in more detail how the nurture assumption warps the debate on same-sex marriage.

  113. joe said:
    “Why is it so acceptable to treat fathers as the lowest rung on the family totem pole?” Because there really are people standing on their shoulders. Little kids. If he leaves, they fall. That’s why. That’s the deal you sign up for when you become a father.

    Wow! Really wow. I’m sorry joe, but I don’t share your belief that the welfare of the child is inherently more valuable than the welfare of any of the parents (that seems to be the implication).

    Furthermore, if I never actually impregnated a woman then I didn’t “sign on” for anything. That’s like saying that if someone forges my signature and I don’t realize it soon enough that I should be on the hook for whatever my sig was used for. It would seem to me that if someone presents a child as “mine” when it in fact isn’t, I’ve been a victim of fraud and I should be entitled to no longer being obligated to the terms of “parental responisbility”.

    You seem to be arguing from the point of “well someone needs to be on the hook, so it may as well be the guy who was lied to”. I’m sorry that that there may be “collateral damage” to the child, but that his mom’s responsibility and his biological father’s. There are many children who suffer the negative consequences of their parents’ decistions (I did and I’m sure others on this board did too). In fact many people have to suffer the consequences of the actions of unrealted folks as well. (Like when a new work rule comes into effect because of something a co-worker did). Such is that nature of life.

    IMHO, There is something inherently wrong with the position of “yeah you were screwed over, and you have been wrongfully forced to be responsible for someone else’s mess, but uhmm that’s the price you pay for being a man”

    Now maybe I’m wrong, but I believe that any man can walk away from his child if he chooses to, correct? Maybe not financially (he would still be required to pay child support and what-not) but he can refuse any custody and visitation if he so chooses, correct? (Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but I’ve never heard cases of custody being forced upon an unwilling parent) It would seem then that the wronged dad should have the same right, except that he shouldn’t be on the hook financially. (The real dad should then be found and held responsible)

    I find it morally repugnant to force the victim of fraud to have to suffer the consequences. Although I wouldn’t agree with the decision of a father to walk away, I can’t in any way shape or form agree that it is proper to remove his right to make that choice. In my opinion, the situation you think is “proper” becomes a weird form of indentured servitude.

  114. Look, we can say what we want about what people should do and who should be regarded as dishonest or whatnot. The bottom line is that when this information comes out the resulting process is rarely pleasant, even if in the end it is accepted and the parties involved make peace with one another. (And if they don’t make peace, well, it can be ugly.) We can praise or condemn all we want, but our opinions probably mean very little to the people actually involved in such things.

    So, the question here is what to do in situations where such information might come out medically. And we can say what we want, but nobody seems to contest the notion that the relevant parties should decide just how much information they want from the genetics lab.

    If all they’re looking for is diseases there’s really no need to do an actual paternity test. The only really hard question is what to do if the doctor inadvertently finds info relevant to paternity (“Hmm, the girl has two copies of the gene but the father isn’t a carrier…”). And nobody has disputed the notion that the doctor should handle it as delicately as possible within whatever parameters the relevant parties agreed to before the test. That could range from blunt (“You said you’d want to know, and, well, I hate to break it to you, but…”) to evasive (“Your daughter has two copies of this gene, but your sons are safe.”).

    So, if nobody disputes these notions, what are we arguing over?

  115. The suit was on the grounds that “made a significant difference in the life of the kid” made him defacto father. Like I said, he loved the kid so he deceded not to fight it (so that’s his bad). But then he couldn’t get any custody rights, he wanted to do the right thing and be a dad and all but he isn’t allowed to. I have two other friends who married single mothers, and it’s not about rational descisions at that point, they all truly love the kids, and some more than the wives their taking.

  116. it is evil to break up families

    Well, joe, I guess you’re also opposed to divorce for any reason, as well. Never mind that the mother lays around in a drunken stupor all day, or that the father might beat the child or wife, it’s evil to break up families, so don’t ever do it, for any reason.

    As for your silly little rape analogy, in those cases, the man who married the woman would almost certainly know the circumstances of the situation, so that argument does not apply in the least in this circumstance.

    Here’s a simple statement of fact for you, go ahead and swallow it with your coffee: IT IS ALWAYS WRONG TO HOLD SOMEONE MORALLY ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE ACTIONS OF ANOTHER. Unless you are responsible for the actions of the the offending individual. That means that a parent can be held accountable for the actions of their child, but the husband (especially in the situation being discussed here), is not, and cannot be held accountable for the actions of his wife. End of story. To belive otherwise is the worst form of moral relativism.

    That being said, I would also argue that most men who had formed a bond with a child would not be all that likely to abandon them outright, and the ones that would do so would be poor parents anyway.

    Finally, I agree with thoreau. Disclosure should probably not be automatic, but the procedures should exist to handle the cases where disclosure may become necessary.

  117. CA, it’s terrible that your cousin’s relationship with the kid he was raising has been broken. Poor kid. That’s exactly the type of thing I’m trying to avoid. It’s outrageous that visitation can be denied to a perfectly good, non-abusive parent, especially one with economic responsibilities.

    Jennifer, “In the name of morality,” No, not in the name of morality. In the name of the children. Yes, I can say that unironically. Geeky, sincere joe, I bet you don’t even mutter it’s all bullshit while leaning against a building. “…you’re letting women get away with immorality (fraud), all for the sake of The Children?” Yup. I know burning witches is fun, but the kids have to be the priority.

    Kevin, “(why else choose to know the paternity info)” Actually, the question was about information discovered during screening for genetic diseases. Though you raise a good point in opposition to the idea that this information should *never* be shared.

    fluffy, “one should only be called to account to remedy harms when one is morally responsible for that harm.” If you walk out on your family, you are responsible for the harm that causes. That other people may also be responsible for encouraging you to walk out does not relieve you of your responsibility. The legal term for this is “joint and several liability.” I don’t care if your wife is a lying, thieving whore. You don’t walk out on your kids.

  118. My knee-jerk reaction is “yes”. If the test results are kept “secret” than the father and children will be making future health decisions based on the theory they share genetic traits. If the results are passed on to doctors and other medical staff as needed, then, well, it’s going to come out eventually and folks are really going to get angry.
    Besides, I’m just a big fan of mature,responsible adults being told the Truth and allowed to make their own decisions based on that.

  119. MK, no offense intended, it is good to know that AA and NA agree in principle that some things are better left unsaid or apologized for in the abstract. IE, I’m sorry for all the trouble I’ve been. Unfortunately, I’ve seen that in practice, it doesn’t always work out like that.

  120. Captain Awesome,

    This is truly horrible. I realize that a marriage is a control, but you never get to read it before hand. Now it sounds like just acting like a parent will burden one with onerous obligations.

    I read a great post once regarding the Canadian Step-Parent child support. It mentioned that laws should prevent one from irresponsibility not prevent responsibility. These child support issues will prevent single mothers from dating. The poster went on to say that the only reason the law work was because nobody knew about it.

    I still can’t believe a California judge ordered child support from a boyfriend. Is the woman receiving it from two men now?

    hmmm… I wonder if they are going to start ordering support from people who join the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. Oh well, now every child will have two parents no matter what.

  121. NO. There should be no requirements, either to curtail or spread such information.

    Even though this is a sensitive topic, that does not mean that market forces cannot resolve it. One test for a certain defect may reveal paternity without any further cost to the doctors and technicians, but that does not mean that the testers should just give this info away. If we let the profit motive work, testers would offer a suite of possible results: ‘Check this box to find if you (or your child) has genetic defect A ($1000), check this box to find if you have genetic defect B ($500), check this box to confirm paternity ($500).’ Over time good ol’ greed would guarantee that testers would ask ahead of time so that they can maximize profit. Asking ahead of time would allow patients who request the tests to be clear regarding what information they do or do not want to hear.

    If you require doctors and technicians to reveal information inadvertantly gleaned from tests, you are forcing them to give away a product of their effort without being allowed to request payment.

    Forensics is a different ball game; however, because those requesting the tests are government bodies. Consequently free market ideas are not applicable. I would then say that only information which pertains to the case in question should be published in any fashion: the rest should be destroyed as irrelevant. If the father wants to find out if his kids are actually his, then he should have to pay for the test.

  122. mandatory paternity test at birth

    Perhaps, perhaps not, but right now the state takes the word of the mother as to who the father is. That isn’t a much better solution but it is cheaper. For the taxpayer anyway. Maybe. Depending.

  123. ooops careless me. I was trying to say

    I realize that a marriage is a contract, but you never get to read it before hand.

  124. Joe–

    So in other words, you’re saying kids are SO important that it’s all right to harm innocent adults for their sake.

  125. Hey Joe, I got three ungrateful kids I want you to raise for me. Any questions? No. OK, good. They will be right over.

  126. I agree with Jennifer. Cut the kids in half.

  127. I’m curious as to what Joe’s position on divorce (particularly the no fault kind) in marriages with children is? Does he feel couples should be legally required to stay married in order to avoid damaging the child’s parental bonds?

  128. It seems to me that an awful lot of people have extrapolated an awfully long way from “1 in 25 fathers are unknowingly rearing children who are not genetically theirs” to all kinds of conclusions. Not knowing the specifics of any single one of these situations, we’ve concluded that all the women in these relationships are lying sluts, lying whores, lying whore sluts, whoring slutbag liars, ad nauseum. I wish I could be that confident of my moral superiority, mind-reading skills, and snap-judgement ability. Perhaps one day I’ll reach that level of evolution.

    What’s funny is that, with a couple of exceptions, there isn’t nearly the condemnation being tossed around for men who are running around fathering children with other mens’ partners. I guess that in many significant ways we haven’t come all that far in our sexual politics.

  129. The point is, when I suggested that women be penalized for defrauding their husbands, your response was “yeah, but the women might be rape victims.”

    Now you know how I feel when I talk about abortion. I sometimes wonder if the more radical NOW and NARAL elements are kind of glad rape happens once in a while, to give them a justification for abortion.

  130. Phil,

    Hate to knock you off your high horse, but the practical problem with going after the biological father here is that his identity is unknown, except perhaps to the mother. Though a paternity test indicates that X is not the father, it does not indicate who is.

  131. Is joe for real or is he a bot designed to keep the comments going? Sometimes I wonder…

  132. I apologize in advance for my whining, but I’m a little frustrated that nobody has had anything at all to say about my earlier comment about The Nurture Assumption. With all due modesty, I think it’s a unique and important contribution to the discussion.

    Sorry again.

  133. Now that I think about it, this is a simple argument to solve.

    If you make the assumption that laws should punish, prevent irresponsible behavior, and reimburse damages, the solution is obvious.

    Child support from parents – Good
    Prevents men from having children that they don’t want to support.

    Child support from men having affairs with married women – Good
    Prevents men affairs and from having unwanted children.

    Child support from men married to the mother at the time of the birth – bad
    Prevents marriages

    Child support from step parents – bad
    Prevents marriages

    Child support from step parents that form a bond with the child – Bad
    Prevents children from having a nurturing second parent when the first lets them down.

    As you can see, the courts mindless desire to do what is best for the child will have negative consequences for all children.

    Lets end the family law madness, treat men with equal rights, and start following the constitution. I am not sure why some of the posters here feel that children’s rights usurp all others

  134. They should certainly tell the father. I’m not sure if there should be a law requiring it — but there definitely shouldn’t be a law forbidding it.

    Children may need fathers, but the rights of a child don’t come before the rights of an adult if that adult isn’t the child’s actual parent.

  135. I feel bad I’m entering this thread so late.

    I haven’t read every single post so give me the benefit of the doubt if I am echoing someone else’s thoughts.

    I think that not only should the “fathers” have the right to know about any parental discrepancy, they should be allowed to drown the child in the bathtub for any child 9 years old and under. A “father” definitely shouldn’t be forced to drown a child. It should be an option though. In all fairness.

  136. joe,

    When you were looking for an online magazine you misspelled ‘Liberal’ as ‘Libertarian’.

    Try this instead:
    http://www.thenation.com/

    It has a great story about how George W Bush and the corporations are causing obesity, you’ll love it.

  137. So in other words, you’re saying kids are SO important that it’s all right to harm innocent adults for their sake.

    Jennifer,

    If you read between the lines, what you said is basically the Democratic Party’s platform.

    About the issue at hand: I would want to know, even though it may destroy me. I don’t want to live a lie, the truth is simply too important to me.

    If I were cuckolded, I would most certainly leave the (evil, lying slut of a so-called) wife, but I would do whatever I could to stay in the child’s life (if allowed). (Love should not be predicated upon blood-relation. Such an idea is worse than tribalism. Hell, I love my cat and he’s not even human!) I would even provide support directly to the child in the form of clothing, travel, health insurance, educational expense, etc. I would never give a dime to that dirty slut, even if court ordered (damn the consequences).

    Phil,

    Men who behave as you describe are no better than wild animals–dangerous ones at that. It’s too bad that it’s not acceptable to deal with them the “old-fashioned” way, if you know what I mean.

  138. The Anti-Puritan: “…The Nurture Assumption. This book is not very popular, because it slaughters many sacred cows of both the Right and the Left.”

    People, especially the It’s For The Children crowd and other meddling do-gooders, love those sacred cows because the cows make them feel important. See also Pinker’s excellent book “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.”
    Summary: modern academic psychology is mostly bunk.

  139. Thank you, Mr. Le Mur. The Nurture Assumption and The Blank Slate belong on every libertarian’s bookshelf.

  140. 140 + comments, looks like I?m late to this party. My favorite so far; “A Get Out of Parental Responsibility Free Card…” followed by the poignant “You kneel down and explain why daddy’s not coming back.”

    I’m with the ‘start by telling little Johnny what a tramp mom turned out to be’ crowd. I learned a lot from my parents mistakes, for example don’t have kids while you’re still a kid yourself and can’t afford them. Perhaps the kid will be lucky enough to have the man stick around and have at least one parent to model honoring a commitment. Probably not though; the kind of woman that would sleep around and then trick another man into raising the kid likely doesn’t have a good enough grasp of character to find a man with any. And anyway, how much could a kid benefit from the example of a man that would otherwise cut and run?

    Should there be a law? Hell no. Could you convince me that the doctor was complicit in what is essentially fraud? Likely.

  141. First, this is old news. It’s a problem in some studies because if you need to have the family back over time, eventually it’s going to be clear that only certain members of the family are subjects.

    Second, this is why we have marriage. The family tree isn’t so much a gene map as an org chart.

  142. Wow, such a bunch of puritans we have here.

    “If I were cuckolded, I would most certainly leave the (evil, lying slut of a so-called) wife” says The Real Bill and I see this sentiment echoed often elsewhere in the comments.

    I love my two sons and I love my wife, but the bottom line is that I love my wife as a fully fledged adult. My children I also love but in a slightly different way. They are still very young and with personalities still in flux. I’ll love them whatever they become because the are MINE and we’re bound by blood. If they weren’t really MINE I might feel differently.

    The real life truth is that many (if not a majority) of married couples screw around a bit. That’s life. The idea that an infidelity should automatically negate the marriage seems a bit unrealistic. OK, I’m a serial philanderer so maybe that colours my perspective on this.

  143. The idea that an infidelity should automatically negate the marriage seems a bit unrealistic.

    It’s not the infidelity so much as it is the woman getting pregnant by a man who isn’t her husband, and then lying to the husband and suckering him into supporting a child who isn’t his. But of course, Joe would say it’s perfectly acceptable to victimize adult males rather than let the children of fraudulent sluts find out that their moms are fraudulent sluts.

  144. Joe: So you’re seriously arguing that it’s best to be ignorant, because you might act on accurate information?

    Well. That’s an interesting decision.

    How about genetic testing at birth? IS that okay? Or is it still bad because it would lead to “abandoned” infants? (I use quotes because the person doing the “abandoning” has no obligation to someone else’s child beyond that of anyone else.)

    And if it’s still bad, why don’t we just require random men to be “fathers” to infants raised by single women? After all, it’s not their kid either, so what would the difference be? Other than that they weren’t already having sex with the mother, of course.

    (If you’re willing to say that doing the testing at birth is fine because there’s no parent-child bond formed yet, then of course this last paragraph does not apply.)

  145. Boy, I’m seeing a lot of insecure, immature men in this thread. Any man who would walk away from a child he’s raised for more than 3 years just on the basis of genetics doesn’t know the meaning of “parenthood” and should be sterilized.

  146. Anybody heard of a Chimera? A person born with more than one DNA fingerprint in different portions of the body? Perhaps they’re not as rare as we think.
    Moms who physically bore their children have been told they are not theirs. It depends on where they get the DNA from.

  147. Lee wrote:
    Boy, I’m seeing a lot of insecure, immature men in this thread.

    There’s nothing insecure or immature about refusing to be defrauded. Men deserve a degree of reproductive choice equivalent to that which Roe v. Wade has afforded women.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.