Monday, May 14, 2018

Technology: Familial DNA testing: New weapon for policing abortion laws in the USA? (This is real! HL The Verge reports: "Police are using DNA testing to track down a fetus’s mother. The search could have serious implications for how police investigate abortions." Reporter Russell Brandom..."Monday afternoon, workers at a treatment plant in Augusta, Georgia found something unusual traveling through the city’s wastewater. A mass of fetal remains had lodged in a piece of equipment, apparently flushed down a drain somewhere within city limits. City coroner Mark Bowen identified the remains as roughly 20 weeks into pregnancy, halfway through the second trimester. That also placed the remains right on the lip of Georgia’s abortion law, which outlaws abortions after 20 weeks. Faced with unidentified remains, Bowen took an unusual step, sending the remains to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for a full autopsy and DNA testing. If successful, the effort could identify the mother and reveal new details about why her pregnancy failed, a novel use of DNA analysis that could have a significant impact on how police investigate abortion cases nationwide."

PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "This strikes me as quite a novel way to deploy familial searching techniques,” said Natalie Ram, who teaches bioethics and law at the University of Baltimore. “Usually when we have a familial search, we’re looking for someone who’s not in the database.” According to NYU Law professor Erin Murphy, the practice could have significant civil liberty implications. “It certainly creates a slippery slope,” Murphy told The Verge. “In essence, the fetus is a witness to the crime, as well as the victim. Does this mean they would defend using a database to find other witnesses?”


QUOTE OF THE DAY: "My intention is to put the mother and fetus together, and make sure the mother’s okay,” he told The Verge. “I just want to make sure she isn’t getting an infection or bleeding out, and then I would like to connect them back together so she can have her miscarried child or aborted child properly disposed of.”

City coroner Mark Bowen;


STORY: "Police are using DNA testing to track down a fetus’s mother," by reporter Russell Brandom,  published by The Verge on May 10, 2018. (The Verge is an American technology news and media network operated by Vox Media. Wikipedia;)

SUB-HEADING:  "The search could have serious implications for how police investigate abortions."