There was a time when finding out who your baby’s father is early in your pregnancy could result in a miscarriage. Now, with forty-one percent of all babies being born to unwed mothers, they’ve come up with a better way.
Of course, being unwed doesn’t mean not knowing who the father is. However, as the ridiculously popular Maury show puts on blast, there are men in this country who don’t have a clue that they have fathered children. Many are willing to take a DNA test to prove (or disprove) paternity and now women can safely have a DNA test done on the baby early in a pregnancy.
Blood tests are becoming available that can determine paternity as early as the eighth or ninth week of pregnancy, without an invasive procedure that could cause a miscarriage.
Besides relieving anxiety, the test results might allow women to terminate a pregnancy if the preferred man is not the father — or to continue it if he is.
Men who clearly know they are the father might be more willing to support the woman financially and emotionally during the pregnancy, which some studies suggest might lead to healthier babies.
And if the tests gain legal acceptance, some lawyers say, women and state governments might one day pursue child support payments without having to wait until the birth. Under current law, “until and unless the pregnancy produces a child, any costs associated with it are regarded as the woman’s personal problem,” said Shari Motro, a law professor at the University of Richmond.
The testing itself, however, can be awkward because it requires a blood sample from at least one of the possible fathers.
Being pregnant and not knowing who the father is, is a sad situation for anyone to be in but it definitely happens. While I would hope no one would use the knowledge gained as an excuse to abort a child, I imagine this would be a benefit to rape or incest victims. In the rare moments I accidentally come across a Maury episode, I always think about how sad it is to be proving paternity on a 18-month-old child. The father has already lost so much time and missed so many special moments with his baby. Whereas if a mother can find out super early in her pregnancy, the father can be there for those moments you never get back like the baby’s first kick, the sonogram that reveals the gender and when the baby is born. At the very least, the mother can go through her pregnancy in peace knowing who the father is — whether he chooses to be there or not. I predict there will be an influx of pregnant men and potential fathers lining up for the Maury show now.
What do you think about the early DNA testing?
Alissa Henry is a freelance writer living in Columbus, OH. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaInPink
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