"All the influential bodies have capitulated to the feminist lobby and conspired to prevent men obtaining DNA paternity tests without the mother’s consent."By MRA-UK: Part 1 of this blog (below) dealt with the frequency of paternity fraud. In Part 2 we look at DNA paternity testing – and specifically how available it is within the UK.
The Legal Position
The issue of consent in DNA paternity testing is addressed in Section 45 of the Human Tissues Act (2004). Many sources give the false impression that it is illegal for a man to carry out a DNA paternity test without the mother’s permission. This is not true.
The Act makes it an offence to have human tissue with the intention of its DNA being analysed without proper consent. The maximum penalty for this offence is 3 years in prison.
The legality of a DNA paternity test hinges upon consent. Qualifying Consent is defined in a flowchart, reproduced below, available on the Human Tissue Authority’s web site.
Essentially the man and the child must both consent. There is no requirement for the mother’s consent.
However, a very young child will not be deemed capable of consent. In this case the man may consent on the child’s behalf if he has parental responsibility (defined below).
There is no hard and fast rule regarding whether a child is capable of consent. I have seen advice suggesting that children of 12 and over are usually taken to be capable, but there is no guarantee of this – it will vary from case to case.
If the child is capable of consent but refuses consent, then holding material for the purposes of carrying out a DNA test would be illegal (quite rightly).
If the child is not capable of consent and the putative father does not have parental responsibility then a paternity test cannot be carried out unless consent is obtained from someone who does have parental responsibility, usually the mother.
However, my understanding is that the salient feature of the 2004 Act is that the man does not require the mother’s permission to carry out a DNA paternity test, providing that either the child is capable of consenting and consents, or, the child is not capable of consenting and the putative father meets the requirement as having parental responsibility and consents on the child’s behalf.
A man qualifies as having parental responsibility if, (i) he is married to the child’s mother, or, (ii) the child was born after 1st December 2003 and his name appears on the baby’s birth certificate.
But…the Act blurs what appears clear through this clause: “As the issue of paternity testing is a sensitive one, further guidance has been published by the Department of Health in this area.” I turn to this DH Code of Practice next – but note that such a document is not law, it is merely the guidance of one government department.
The Reality: The DH Code of Practice
Prior to the 2004 Act, the custom and practice in paternity testing was generally in accord with the Department of Health’s Code of Practice and Guidance on Genetic Paternity Testing in the UK (2001). This custom and practice is evident from the guidance on consent given by the testing laboratories. For example, Anglia DNA Services state that,
If a paternity Test is to be carried out for a child under 16 years, but the mother is not herself being tested*, then only the mother may consent for the child**From this one might have expected that the revision of the DH’s Code of Practice and Guidance on Genetic Paternity Testing would remove the requirement for the mother’s consent, thus bringing it into line with the 2004 Act. It does not. The relevant extract from the Department of Health’s Good Practice Guide on Paternity Testing Services (issue for Consultation/Discussion, February 2008) is,
*It should be noted that at present the Child Support Agency require all three parties to be tested – ie mother, father and child. (Note that Dr Denise Syndercombe-Court confirms that they do not carry out DNA testing unless the mother consents)
** Following the changes which came into force in 2006 it is anticipated that these requirements will be modified when the ‘Code of Practice and Guidance for Genetic Paternity Testing Services’ (2001) has been revised in line with the new Act (it is currently under review).
3.33 The best interests of the child should be a primary concern when commissioning genetic paternity tests. This Guide reflects the view of the Human Genetic Commission that, in the majority of circumstances, motherless testing could prove harmful to the child, as well as to the family unit as a whole.In Summary
3.34 The British Medical Association advises doctors who are consulted by putative fathers about paternity testing without the mother’s knowledge and consent to encourage those seeking testing to discuss their plans with the child’s mother. Should the putative father reject this advice, the British Medical Association tells doctors not to become involved in the testing process.
3.35 We are aware too that, in cases where parentage is disputed, the Child Support Agency may offer genetic testing of all three parties – the child, the mother and the alleged father. It is unlikely that the Child Support Agency will accept motherless testing as a method of resolving a paternity dispute for the foreseeable future.
3.36 We are therefore of the view that motherless testing should not be undertaken by paternity testing companies, unless such a test has been directed by a court.
All the influential bodies have capitulated to the feminist lobby and conspired to prevent men obtaining DNA paternity tests without the mother’s consent.
In doing so they are implementing restrictions on the rights of a man which have no legal standing.
The “best interests of the child” are being conflated with “the best interests of the mother” to spuriously justify this.
The claim that “motherless testing could prove harmful to the child” is based on no evidence or argument, it is merely asserted without reason. The reality is that it may prove harmful to the mother.
The Department of Health, the Child Support Agency (now the Child Maintenance Service), the British Medical Association and the Human Genetic Commission have taken it upon themselves to frustrate the legal entitlement of a man with parental responsibility to DNA paternity testing without the mother’s consent. There is no barrier to such a man doing so in the Human Tissues Act (2004). These Agencies appear to be preventing men accessing a legal right.
A man with parental responsibility may, subject to the child’s consent, carry out a ‘home’ paternity test with legal impunity. However, the authorities are unlikely to recognise such a test. The extra-legal restrictions imposed by the DH and the CMS prevent a man obtaining a test that will be recognised formally.
Finally, is there a catch 22 operating here? If a man has parental responsibility then he will, I presume, be liable to pay child maintenance irrespective of the result of a DNA test. On the other hand, if he does not have parental responsibility he cannot, without the mother’s consent, prove that he is not the father of a child incapable of consent – and hence may again be liable to pay child maintenance.
Paternity Fraud Part 1Here’s a little story. You get up one day and turn on the breakfast time radio news programme. A big story is breaking. Maternity wards have been mixing up the babies and sending women home with the wrong child! Moreover this has been happening at every maternity ward in the country since records began. Estimates have shown that at least 10% of all children have been brought up by the wrong mother – and possibly as many as 30%!
Can you imagine if this actually happened? There would be a sociological thermonuclear explosion. It’s just off the scale in terms of public reaction and horror. Women would be freaking out and having breakdowns right, left and centre.
But it doesn’t stop there. It has been discovered that these baby mix-ups have not happened by accident. It’s been done deliberately. The people responsible have been identified. And there are laws under which these despicable acts can be prosecuted. But guess what – the authorities have decided not to prosecute.
What? You’re kidding, right? Life imprisonment for these bastards, surely?
Too far fetched? Then grasp this. The above scenario is essentially true – right here and now in the good old UK. But it’s not women who have been given the wrong babies – it’s men.
Phew! So, that’s OK, then.
And it really is OK in Marilyn Stowe’s opinion. As far as she is concerned, it doesn’t matter if a man is conned into believing another man’s child is his, she says so here. Well, that’s fine and dandy for her. As a woman, it is not a problem she will ever have.
Other women might, like Melanie McDonagh, bemoan the advent of the DNA test. She writes, “At a stroke, the one thing that women had going for them has been taken away, the one respect in which they had the last laugh over their husbands and lovers.”
There you have all the motivation you need for a men’s rights movement. Conning a man into spending his life raising another man’s child is just “a laugh”.
She continues, “DNA tests are an anti-feminist appliance of science, a change in the balance of power between the sexes.” Indeed they could be – if men were actually allowed to have a DNA test (see Part 2 of this blog).
It is extremely common for women to tell a man (husband or otherwise) that a child is his, when in fact it is not. This is paternity fraud. If deliberate, and it most often is, it is a crime. DNA testing can, and frequently does, establish that the mother has lied. How often are women prosecuted for this crime? Extremely rarely. I know of one UK case.
How common is paternity fraud? Firm data are hard to obtain for the simple reason that very few children are DNA tested. Data discussed below imply that only ~1% of cases which come before the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) involve DNA testing, and hence far fewer than 1% for the population as a whole. The best available information on the frequency of paternity fraud is summarised below.
From the Child Support Agency (CSA, now the CMS)
Of all DNA tests ordered by the CSA in four consecutive years the following percentages revealed the man whom the woman claimed to be father in fact was not the father: 10.6% (2004/5), 16.4% (2005/6), 13.6% (2006/7) and 19% (2007/8). This data is not normally published but was obtained via a Freedom of Information request and reported in The Guardian in August 2008.
What is not clear is whether these figures are representative of the UK population as a whole. On the one hand they were obtained from cases where paternity was probably being disputed. On the other hand, under CSA rules (to be explored further in Part 2 of this blog) a DNA test to establish paternity cannot be carried out unless the mother consents. So it might equally be argued that the rate of paternity fraud in the 99% of cases not tested (perhaps because the mother refused) would be greater still. We do not currently know.
Bellis et al (2005)
A multi-nation study by Bellis et al, Ref. indicates average rates of paternity fraud across the data collected of ~28%, though these data relate to cases where paternity had been disputed prior to testing and hence might be expected to be higher than in the public as a whole. Also UK rates appeared to be lower than in most other countries. The same paper using data from tests where there had been no such dispute implied average paternal discrepancies of about 4% to 7%. However, these tests allowed opt-out from people who might have been concerned about the outcome and so these estimates may err on the low side.
American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), 2002
In 2001 out of 310,490 cases tested by the AABB some 90,227 were “reported as exclusions”, i.e., the man was not the father in 29% of these cases. However, there is no guarantee that this figure is representative of the population at large, even in the USA. The sample size is impressively large, though.
Mommy’s little secret (Canada, 2002)
This is not a scientific study, but it suggests that the oft-repeated figure of very roughly 10% is in the right ball park.
Dr Denise Syndercombe-Court
In this video Senior Scientist Dr Denise Syndercombe-Court at Barts & London School of Medicine quoted negative paternity tests at the rate of 10%-12%. These are tests ordered by the CSA, so this estimate is superseded by those given above (i.e., 10% – 19%).
From all the above evidence I estimate that UK rates of paternity fraud are likely to be at least 10%, and perhaps the most recently revealed CSA figure of 19% may be the best estimate. Rates are believed to be far lower in higher socioeconomic groups, but correspondingly higher, perhaps ~30%, in the lowest socioeconomic groups. This suggests that roughly a couple of million children in the UK have been misled as to who is their father (and vice versa).
Shhh…don’t talk about it!
The feminist lobby, and perhaps women generally, are keen that the issue of paternity fraud is kept under wraps. A fine example is the article in the Guardian on 1/8/2008. The article itself was a good one. It included the CSA DNA test data. It also made the following observations,
Since DNA paternity testing figures began to be collected in 1998-99, 4,854 paternity claims have turned out to be false after DNA testing. Under child support legislation it is a criminal offence to make a false statement or representation, and to provide false documents or information. However, according to the CSA, there has not been a single prosecution of a woman for making a false claim.The only thing egregious about the article was its title, namely “DNA testing: One in 500 fathers wrongly identified by mothers in CSA claims“. Alert readers must have been most confused because the first sentence of the article actually read, “Nearly one in five paternity claims handled by the CSA end up showing the mother has deliberately or inadvertently misidentified the father.” This sentence flatly contradicts the title of the article!
The CSA does not have figures for whether any women have named the wrong father on more than one occasion. They also appear to have no information as to why women named the wrong father. CSA rules state that if the DNA test establishes that the named father is the actual father, then he must pay for the cost of the test. If the DNA establishes he is not the father then the taxpayer pays, so there is no consequence for the mother in making a false claim. The government has spent £9.37m on paternity tests since 1998 (i.e., in ten years).
The article was subject to amendments on 13/8/08 and again on 10/9/08, though the grossly misleading title remained. I think we can read between the lines here as regards the struggle going on between the (honest) author and the feminist copy editor determined to deflect attention from the message of the report with a completely misleading title.
The headline 1-in-500 figure is completely meaningless. It is merely the number of men who were proved to have been falsely identified as the fathers, based on DNA testing, as a proportion of all the cases processed by the CSA. Since DNA testing is carried out only on a tiny fraction of all CSA cases, this ratio is bound to be small – even if every DNA test carried out were negative! The actual data, for year 2007/8, were 3,474 DNA tests carried out of which 661 were negative, i.e., the putative father was not the father in 19% of the cases tested. If 661 is 1-in-500 of CSA cases one can conclude that the CSA handled 500 x 661 = 330,500 cases in 2007/8. We can further conclude, therefore, that the CSA approved DNA tests for only 3,474 in 330,500, or 1.1% of cases. This is perhaps just as interesting a fact as the very high level of paternity fraud: extremely few men are allowed to know whether they are or are not the father.
The worst aspect of paternity fraud is that many women just do not recognise how wrong it is. This provides perhaps the most emphatic example of a common female mindset that men just don’t matter. A common perspective of women (the sinful 10%) is that it is perfectly reasonable for them to “choose” the father – after the event. That is, to choose who they wish to name as the father quite independently of the true biological father. Their objective, of course, is to optimise their financial position. Most women (in fact ~90%) are not so callous, of course. But in such a woman’s view, fatherhood is not decided by whose sperm was involved. Rather fatherhood is conferred by them, the mother, based on which man of their acquaintance has the best job.
How Serious is Paternity Fraud?
Paternity fraud is unique. It is simultaneously one of the most heinous of crimes, and yet is almost never punished despite also being far and away the most common of all crimes.
The effects of paternity fraud are threefold. Firstly, the child has a right to know its true father. There is a great deal of “the best interests of the child” in the literature about paternity identification, but as usual this is conflated with the best interests of the mother.
The falsely identified father faces two distinct hardships, both extremely onerous: financial and emotional. Even considered only as financial fraud it must rank as easily the most serious to which any ordinary person is subject. If you have your wallet stolen and someone empties all your bank accounts, takes all your savings and maxes out your credit cards, that’s a major blow. But that is insignificant compared with paying for the maintenance of a child (and perhaps a wife) for 18 years. And then there is the emotional destruction of finding that ‘your’ son or daughter isn’t! Perhaps after 18 years faithful devotion.
In my blog on the Corston Report you may recall that the good Baroness claimed that men cannot comprehend how awful prison is for women. But many women appear to have a comprehension problem as regards the appallingly destructive nature of paternity fraud. Paternity crime is inflicted callously with no remorse and no recognition by the perpetrator that the matter is particularly serious.
References (other than those linked directly above)
- Mark A Bellis, Karen Hughes, Sara Hughes and John R Ashton, “Measuring paternal discrepancy and its public health consequences”, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 59 (2005) 749-754.