Early Testing

With more than half of births to women under 30 now out of wedlock, it is not uncommon for the expectant mother to ask, “Who is the father?”

Now blood tests can determine paternity as early as the eighth or ninth week of pregnancy, without an invasive procedure that could cause a miscarriage. Besides relieving anxiety, the test results allow women to abort if the preferred man is not the father – or to continue the pregnancy if he is. Moreover, the man who clearly knows he is the father may be more willing to support the mother financially and emotionally during the pregnancy.

Some lawyers say that women and state governments might one day pursue child support payments without having to wait until the birth if the tests gain legal acceptance.  Under current law, “until and unless the pregnancy produces a child, any costs associated with it are regarded as the woman’s personal problem,” said Shari Motro, a law professor at the University of Richmond.

Chorionic Villus Sampling  (CVS) is usually performed at very early stages of pregnancy, generally around the 8th to 13th week of pregnancy. Paternity tests conducted using CVS samples are as accurate as tests that are performed after the child is born. The testing itself, however, can be difficult because it requires a blood sample from at least one of the possible fathers.

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