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F & F’s Paternity Fraud Bills: 50 Physicians Endorse ‘Reasonable Means’ to Determine Correct Paternity

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Fathers and Families has helped introduce two new paternity fraud bills (SB 375 and SB 377) into the California legislature, both sponsored by Senator Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood). There are many reasons to support these bills, including fairness for the men targeted by paternity fraud. But there are also compelling medical reasons to combat paternity fraud. In our official support letter for SB 375 and SB 377, Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S., F & F’s Founder and Chairman of the Board, wrote:

Current California law declares that there is a compelling state interest in determining paternity for all children. SB 375 would instead declare that there is a “compelling state interest in determining biological paternity for all children.’ Current California law allows minors to sign paternity judgments without parental consent or legal counsel. SB 377 would prohibit this practice, which currently leads to many errors in assigning paternity. Speaking as a physician and a Harvard-educated public health specialist, I”m writing to you because I believe SB 375 and SB 377 are important steps towards recognizing and promoting the medical importance of correctly identifying a child”s paternity… Medical schools and medical journals continuously urge physicians, particularly pediatricians, to investigate their patients” family histories. The U.S. Surgeon General has launched a major national initiative (https://familyhistory.hhs.gov) to encourage all American families to learn more about their family health histories. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “Knowing your family history can help your doctor predict your risk of developing diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.’ This is not possible when the wrong man is identified as the father of a child.

Fathers and Families has many supporters within the medical community. Fifty of our physician supporters have agreed to be listed as endorsers of the following statement:

As physicians, we agree with the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Institutes of Health that good patient care includes accurate family histories. For this reason, we endorse the principle of employing reasonable means, including DNA testing, to accurately determine children’s paternity.

Fathers and Families’ full SB 375 and SB 377 support letter and the list of physician signatories is below. March 28, 2011 Senator Rod Wright P.O. Box 942849 Room 5164 Sacramento, CA 94249-0065 Fax: 916 445-3712 Re: SB 375 & SB 377 PATERNITY. Position: SUPPORT Dear Senator Rod Wright: Current California law declares that there is a compelling state interest in determining paternity for all children. SB 375 would instead declare that there is a “compelling state interest in determining biological paternity for all children.’ Current California law allows minors to sign paternity judgments without parental consent or legal counsel. SB 377 would prohibit this practice, which currently leads to many errors in assigning paternity. Speaking as a physician and a Harvard-educated public health specialist, I”m writing to you because I believe SB 375 and SB 377 are important steps towards recognizing and promoting the medical importance of correctly identifying a child”s paternity. Fathers and Families urges support for SB 375 and SB 377 and thanks Senator Wright for addressing this important medical issue. Medical schools and medical journals continuously urge physicians, particularly pediatricians, to investigate their patients” family histories. The U.S. Surgeon General has launched a major national initiative (https://familyhistory.hhs.gov) to encourage all American families to learn more about their family health histories. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “Knowing your family history can help your doctor predict your risk of developing diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.’ This is not possible when the wrong man is identified as the father of a child. Worse, in these cases either or both parents mistakenly think that they do know the family history. This situation is worse than in cases of adoption, in which the family all know that the health history of the biological family is unavailable. The possible repercussions of incorrect father identification are many. Having an accurate family history can be vital to diagnosing and treating many diseases which afflict children. In combating childhood cancers, misidentifying the father can slow progress in finding appropriate first degree relatives for bone marrow or liver transplants, stem cell treatments, etc. When the wrong man is identified as the father, the child loses possible matches from one-half of her family, including half-siblings, uncles and aunts. Meanwhile valuable time to stop the disease is being lost, and potentially crucial donors are not being discovered. No cure exists for cystic fibrosis, but early detection is so important to treating it that screenings are now often being done prenatally to determine if the parents carry the gene for the disease. The results will be inaccurate if the wrong father is identified. When the father is not properly identified, the child may grow up not knowing that he or she is at high risk of illnesses with genetic components, and may not grasp the need for special forms of care. For instance, knowing whether a woman”s father carries the BRCA gene can be important in combating breast cancer, as breast cancer screening recommendations differ for those with and without a family history of breast cancer. Legislation to encourage accurate paternity identifications for medical reasons has been supported by many important medical institutions, including the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court called for a legislative remedy in Footnote 21 of its Paternity of Cheryl decision in 2001. There are human rights issues as well as medical issues. We take great pains to be sure that newborn infants are matched to the right mothers. We use footprints, wristbands, video cameras, and more. When babies are discovered to have gone home with the wrong mother, judgments at law follow for large amounts of money, even if the error is discovered within a few days. Is it not just as important to match the right child with the right father? Are fathers less important, and do they deserve fewer parental rights? Now there is a reliable and relatively inexpensive scientific tool that insures that babies will be matched to the right father. It is time to use it. Fathers and Families has many supporters within the medical community. The physicians listed below have agreed to be listed as endorsers of the following statement:

As physicians, we agree with the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Institutes of Health that good patient care includes accurate family histories. For this reason, we endorse the principle of employing reasonable means, including DNA testing, to accurately determine children’s paternity.

Endorsers include: Paul Appleton, MD Physician University of Connecticut Health Center West Hartford, CT Mariano Amador, MD Pediatrician Houston, TX Deena M. Athas, MD, AAHIVS Clinical Instructor, Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Philadelphia, PA Lloyd Axelrod, MD Physician Massachusetts General Hospital Boston, MA Jeffrey J. Betman, MD, DPM Podiatric Physician and Surgeon Chicago, IL Michael Burday, MD Worcester, MA Anthony C. Campagna, MD Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Boston, MA Patsy Benny Cipolloni, MD Assistant Professor BUMS and Associate Chief of Staff for Research Bedford VA Hospital Bedford, MA Peter J. Dimatteo, MD FACEP Duxbury, MA David Dodson, MD Primary Care Internist Sansum Clinic Santa Barbara, CA James E. Eichel, MD Diplomate American Board of Family Practice Berkeley, CA R. Paul Ferenchak, MD, FACS Physician Syracuse, NY Shawn Gliklich, MD Emergency Physician Emergency Department Director of Quality Steward Holy Family Hospital Methuen, MA Sanjeev Gopal, MD Director of Medical Oncology 21st Century Oncology Casa Grande, AZ Stevan Gressitt, MD Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry Unity, ME C.H.Harichandran MD Medical Director, Center for Biopsychiatry Walnut Creek, CA Christopher Ho, MD Physician Assistant Clinical Professor, UCLA Los Angeles, CA Benny Hau, MD Family Medicine physician Assistant Professor of Medicine, Loma Linda University Medical Director of Physician Assistant Program, Loma Linda University Los Angeles, CA Roland Heidenhofer, MD Emergency Medicine Irving, TX Brian Herschorn, MD, C.M. Ophthalmologist Clinical Instructor, Mount Sinai School of Medicine Head of Oculoplastic Surgery, Department of Ophthalmology, Maimonides Medical Center New York, NY Eric A. Huettl, MD Division of Vascular & Interventional Radiology Mayo Clinic Phoenix, AZ Eric Jauhiainen, MD Physician Walla Walla, WA Russell Jennings, MD Assoc Prof, Harvard Medical School Pediatric Surgeon, Children”s Hospital Boston, MA Sidney P. Kadish, MD, FACR Professor and Clinical Director Department of Radiation Oncology University of Massachusetts Medical School / Center Worcester, MA Dr. Laurence Henry Kendall Malden, MA Gregory T. Kotonias, MD Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Retired Lay Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church Former Consultant to the Archdiocese of Boston Boston, MA Clayton E. Leopold, MD Internist Princeton, NJ Melvyn Lurie, MD Weston, MA Milton Masur, MD Internist North Shore University Hospital Westbury, NY Steven Maynard, MD Assistant Professor Department of OB/GYN Georgetown University Medical Center Washington, DC David Menchell, MD Physician Assistant Director Division of Allergy/Immunology New York Hospital Queens Medical Center Fresh Meadows, New York Barry Migicovsky, MD Gastroenterologist Chief of Gastroenterology Memorial Regional Hospital Hollywood, FL Dr. Humberto C├ęsar Moreno-Fuenmayor Medical Geneticist & Attorney at Law Professor in Medical Genetics The University of Zulia School of Medicine & The Venezuelan Foundation of Family Medicine Maracaibo, Venezuela Dr. Jack Nuszen, DO Emergency Medicine Methodist Hospital Houston, TX Su-Min Oon, Ph.D., MD Anesthesiologist/Pain Medicine North Florida Regional Medical Center Gainesville, FL Jay Portnow, MD., Ph.D. Board Certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Associate Clinical Professor Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Tufts University Medical School Boston, MA Hector M. Ramos, MD Clovis, CA Peter A. Rapoza, MD Ophthalmologist Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston Boston, MA Eric Reines, MD, FACP Geriatrics Marblehead, MA Arnold Robbins, MD Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association Cambridge, MA Vernon D. Reynolds, MD Physician Medical Director Columbus, OH Frederic H. Schwartz, MD, FACP Assistant Professor University of Massachusetts School of Medicine Worcester, MA Ashish Sharma, MD Clinical Instructor, Harvard Medical School Clinical Instructor, Boston School of Medicine Shrewsbury, MA Keith Sedlacek MD Psychiatry New York City, NY Edward M. Stephens, MD President and Founder, Foundation for Male Studies Life Member, American Medical Association Life Member, American Psychiatric Association Member, American Acad. of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Plains, NY John Tedeschi, MD Family Medicine Robbinsville, NJ Donald Thea, MD Professor, Department of International Health Boston University School of Public Health Boston, MA Gerald N. Unger, MD, JD, LLM Executive Director & General Counsel The Inalienable Rights Project, Inc. Wareham, MA Les Veskrna, MD Family Physician Lincoln, NE Ariel Vitali, MD Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Sellersville, PA Marlene J. Wust-Smith, MD, F.A.A.P. Pediatrician Charles Cole Memorial Hospital Port Allegany, PA William H Wyttenbach, MD Anesthesiologist/Emergency Medicine, Pain Medicine, Anti Aging/ Longevity Medicine Clinical Hypnotherapist Honorably Discharged, USAF Helenwood, TN

Fathers and Families is a national 501(c)3 not-for-profit charitable organization with offices in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Boston. Fathers and Families improves the lives of children and strengthens society by protecting the child”s right to the love and care of both parents after separation or divorce. We seek better lives for children through family court reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers. Sincerely, Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S. Founder, Chairman of the Board, Fathers and Families

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