UN Push to Regsiter Every Baby Born Brings to Mind DNA Registries in US
U.N.: Register every baby born
Desmond Tutu launches global campaign, claiming unlisted children 'nonentities'
WorldNetDaily | February 23, 2005
The United Nations is supporting a new campaign urging governments around the world to register every newborn child, and it's getting help from South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
''It is, in a very real sense, a matter of life and death,'' the Nobel Peace Prize winner said at a New York news conference. ''The unregistered child is a nonentity. The unregistered child does not exist. How can we live with the knowledge that we could have made a difference?''
The campaign, called "Write me down, make me real," is backed by UNICEF and calls on governments to record the estimated 48 million children whose births go unregistered each year.
Sixteen years ago, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child told countries to register every baby immediately after birth. Every nation has ratified the convention except two, the U.S. and Somalia.
The aid agency Plan USA has released a report titled ''Universal Birth Registration – a Universal Responsibility.'' While it acknowledges it's impossible to know for sure how many unregistered children actually exist because they're not counted, estimates have suggested the figure is over half a billion.
It lists percentages of children not registered by region:
Sub-Saharan Africa: 71 percent
South Asia: 63 percent
Middle East and North Africa: 31 percent
Asia Pacific: 22 percent
Latin America/Caribbean: 14 percent
CEE/CIS and Baltic states: 10 percent
Industrialized countries: 2 percent
"Governments worldwide are failing the world's children, as millions of youngsters without a birth certificate find it very difficult to prove their age or nationality," said Thomas Miller, Plan's chief executive. "Children without birth certificates are far more likely to find themselves without access to education, health care, civil rights or inheritance laws.
"And parents whose children go missing during disasters like the tsunami or because they are abducted by traffickers may even be unable to get help with tracing their sons or daughters because they cannot prove the age of their children – or in many cases that their children even exist."
Does Big Brother Have Your Baby's DNA? / Baby Steps to a Genetic Dossier?
Privacy Advocates Worry Over Collection of Newborn Blood Samples
ABC News | July 18, 2002
South Carolina has defused a recent controversy over its practice of freezing and storing infants' blood samples in perpetuity, samples that critics feared could be used someday for DNA testing without the subjects' permission or anonymity.
[ ... ]
"I know enough about DNA to know that the future is very uncertain as to what it can be used for," said State Senator John Hawkins (R-Spartanburg), who authored the legislation and who has a 4-year-old daughter. "Right now it is limited. But who knows what in the future it can be used for. So I think parents should have the right to say whether their children's samples should be kept or destroyed."
Hawkins said he wanted to make sure samples don't automatically end up as part of law enforcement or government DNA databases, or are used by health insurance companies for screening policy applicants -- or even for human cloning.
"The thing about DNA (is) we don't know what we don't know, we don't know where it is going," he said. "So the prudent thing to do is to ahead and set down some rules for privacy now, before it's too late."
South Carolina residents are especially sensitive to privacy issues lately. Four years ago, state officials came under fire for selling information from 3.5 million drivers licenses to a New Hampshire company without drivers' consent or notification.
"Our state government has done an abysmal job of protecting its citizens' privacy," Hawkins said.
[ ... ]
The controversy over the storage of the samples was fueled by disclosures that some anonymous specimens were released for two genetic studies without parent's permission.
A private genetics center in South Carolina received samples to study a genetic disease. "The request for those specimens went through a review board here at DHEC and we were told to release a small number of those specimens -- less than 500," Dowda said.
The second request for samples came from researchers at the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, which wanted to study DNA profiles. "These were provided to them, never used, and destroyed -- approximately 500," Dowda said.