Last week I wrote about the idea of mandatory paternity testing at birth. I said I would talk about my feelings on the matter this week. While trying to formulate my ideas on the matter I found the following news article for Channel 5 in Tennessee.
The article discusses a new bill in legislation in Tennessee. This bill will require Paternity Tests before ANY man is added as the father on a birth certificate. This is a change from the current law that states if a woman has been married for 300 days before the child was born a paternity test is not necessary.
In reading the article I hear two very passionate sides to this topic. Men who believe their rights can be infringed upon when paternity is assumed at birth. They worry that although a couple is married the assumption that it is a monogamous union is not a safe one. Father’s rights groups are backing this bill with everything they have. They believe it will help eliminate paternity fraud and possibly eliminate the acts of women that create these situations in the first place.
The other side of the argument is women’s rights groups who are up in arms about the idea that while some women have and will commit paternity fraud, that ALL women and couples should have to pay literally. This legislation will change the current $7 fee for a birth certificate to a total of $172. This increase is to pay for the paternity test, obviously. These women’s groups are offended that we should be governing everyone by assuming guilt on the mother’s side.
Myself, I feel extremely conflicted. Dealing with paternity testing on a daily basis I can see both sides of this argument. When I read articles like this I feel that people are taking things down to a very personal perspective and not from a wider view. One side is upset about the amount of fraud occurs and the other is offended that we assume fraud is occurring so often that we have to assume it happens every time.
I feel both sides have a narrow view of a large issue. I don’t know that I feel that the government should be so heavily involved in this process. I understand that many father’s feel betrayed by their partners after years of raising a child that is not theirs. However, is it better to face that issue in what should be a joyous time of your child’s birth? I don’t know. I am not sure that anyone does. I believe that the solution may not be to create new legislation around this massive issue, but to take a closer look at current legislation that does not seem to protect father’s rights after they find this child is not theirs biologically.
I am not a parent, and I cannot imagine what any of this must feel like to those of you who are. I have strong feelings about the issue, but they are based in hypothetical scenarios that I may never face. I do feel there are problems in the system of child support, custody, and the like. I don’t feel it is the solution to add another faulty law to the mix. And I don’t think anyone can tell me that these blanket answer laws work. There are too many what ifs and scenarios that don’t fit the norm. Like the guy who knows he is not the father but wants to raise this child as his own… then again what about the guy who doesn’t know he is about to be a father. I know its complex. That is why I don’t feel the answer lies in this mandatory paternity test solution.
If you live in Tennessee and want to speak your piece contact your state representative or senator or both. Also, you may want to contact the representative who is sponsoring the bill. His name is G.A Hardaway. His email address is email@example.com. I am not telling you which side of this issue to take. But if you feel strongly about this issue I would recommend getting involved in the process.
If you live in another state and feel strongly about this legislation one way or the other you may wish to contact your state reps and let them know about this bill and express your feelings about similar bills in your state.
I am not sure that my perspective really takes one side of the issue or not. I feel there is something broken in the system, but I don’t like this approach. Anyway. Hope everyone is having a wonderful week.
* I am editing this after researching additional details on this bill. House bill 2964 in Tennessee was a part of legislation earlier this year. The article I read initially regarding this legislation was more recent. I guess I have learned a lesson about fact finding missions. Anyway, I wanted everyone to know that this legislation did not pass, in fact from the details on the Tennessee Legislature website it did not get past committee hearings. I apologize for the false alarm.