Umbilical cord blood testing aims to curb teen pregnancy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Umbilical cord blood testing aims to curb teen pregnancy

House Bill 151 goes into effect July 1. The law will require umbilical cord blood to be collected from mothers under the age of 16. House Bill 151 goes into effect July 1. The law will require umbilical cord blood to be collected from mothers under the age of 16.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

There's been a lot of discussion about Mississippi's high teen pregnancy rates. Now lawmakers are trying to attack the problem from a different angle.

House Bill 151 goes into effect July 1. The law will require umbilical cord blood to be collected from mothers under the age of 16.

The new law will be the first of its kind in the country, and Mississippi is hoping other states will use it as a model. Still, there's some controversy about the benefits of the legislation.

"It's designed to deter teenage pregnancy by causing men who are engaging in this conduct to think twice before they get a young girl pregnant," said Rep. Andy Gipson, who authored the bill.

Certain guidelines are laid out in the law on when there is reason to collect the blood.

"Do not identify the father, won't identify the father, lists the father as deceased. Other cases where it's reasonable to believe a sex crime against that child has happened," explained Gipson about the causes for taking forensic samples.

The DNA from the samples will be used to help prosecute sexual offenders 21 and older.

"They've been hiding and they can't hide anymore," Gipson said.

But not everyone agrees the new law will be effective at slowing teen pregnancies. The Women's Fund of Mississippi says the bill passed through the legislature without much attention.

"This idea that old men preying on young girls is the reason why we have a high teen pregnancy rate, there's no real evidence to support that," Jamie Bardwell said.

Bardwell says the organization also worries the law could have unintended consequences that may prove harmful for women.

"Young women who don't want their rapist to be known might not seek care in the hospital setting and might have their baby at home or might not want to seek care because they don't want the doctor to take cord blood," Bardwell said.

The medical examiner will establish the rules and regulations for collecting and preserving the umbilical cord blood.

In terms of cost, Gipson says doctors already reserve cord blood from mothers. But the added DNA testing for paternity will cost $1,000 per case.

Copyright 2013 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

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