Sunday, April 20, 2008

How Much is Paternity Fraud Worth?

Fathers & Families, 18 April 2008, By Ned Holstein, MD, MS

Marion, IL - Two mothers are suing an Illinois hospital because their newborn babies were switched at birth. Although the mistake was rectified within hours, Mary Jo Bathon and Kassie Hopkins are each demanding $50,000 for the mistake.

It is interesting to note the different levels of importance society attaches to mother-child mix-ups versus father-child mix-ups. Hospitals take elaborate precautions to match the right mother to the right newborn - wristbands immediately after birth, footprints, and more.

No steps whatsoever are taken to insure that babies are matched to the right fathers, even though a simple DNA test, now available for under $30 from RiteAid pharmacies, will do the trick.

ABC reported the snafu under the headline, "A Mother's Nightmare." When is the last time a case of paternity fraud was reported as "A Father's Nightmare?"

Mothers whose babies are accidentally switched for only a few hours apparently think it may be worth $50,000 in pain and suffering. Not a single father has collected a dime for having his child switched away from him for decades, even though it has often been done deliberately. And some fathers are required to pay child support for children fraudulently switched to them, even when the switch is discovered. (Under this line of precedents, perhaps Mary Jo and Kassie should each be required to pay child support to the other calculated according to the Illinois Child Support Guidelines.)

Other fathers turn up when they belatedly learn that they have a baby who is about to be "switched" to adoptive parents. Such men are widely reviled.

Somehow society views mothers whose babies are switched as deserving of great compassion, whereas fathers in the same situation are assumed to feel no pain. They are expected to suck it up, be a man, and get along in life. It is the same attitude that assumes that fathers don't really mind very much if they are reduced to seeing their children only four days per month, or if their children are moved far away from them.

Fathers & Families has filed a bill in the Massachusetts Legislature to prevent the babies of fathers from being "switched" at birth. It calls for DNA testing in all out-of-wedlock births to determine the true paternity of children. We persuaded the Massachusetts Medical Society to endorse the bill by pointing out the increasing importance of genetic-based medicine these days. Despite this prestigious support, the bill's prospects are poor in this session of the Legislature.
Apparently, determining a child's true father is not worth much. Tell us what you think it is worth below.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The worst case of paternity fraud is the one committed within a wedlock. A marriage forces rights and responsibilities. Paternity fraud within a marriage is the ultimate betrayal. There is no support or sympathy to the victims of this ultimate betrayal. Adding insult to the injury, the duped dad is even forced to pay child support. If the govt wants to legally extort the money, why only for this child which is a product of the ultimate sin. There are far more numbers of deserving children starving throughout the world.
This child - the result of paternity fraud - is the sole responsibility of its biological mother and the biological sire.