Teen moms under 16 to provide DNA sample to track dads
The state of Mississippi has one of the country’s highest teen pregnancy rates. The national average for teen births among 15 to 19-year-old girls is 31 per 1,000 teens. Mississippi’s rate in 2011 (the most recent year where statistics are available) was 50 per 1,000 teenagers.
The Mississippi state legislature passed a law that went into effect on July 1, 2013, requiring the taking of blood samples from a newborn’s umbilical cord at birth if the teen mother who is under age 16 refuses to name the father. The hope is that DNA matching can identify the father who will be prosecuted for statutory rape if he is an adult. The governor explained in signing the bill that men who engage in sex with underage girls will be charged with breaking the law.
There are concerns about enforcing this new law. Some feel it’s an invasion of privacy of the mother, father and baby. Others feel it will keep teen mothers from obtaining prenatal care or giving birth in hospitals where the collection of the cord blood will occur. Mississippi is believed to be the first state to pass such a law. Ultimately, a court will have to decide the legality of the procedure and whether it violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches.
What do you think of this approach to reducing statutory rape? Does it go too far or is it reasonable in your view?