Judge rules against parents in baby blood case

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A federal district court judge has dismissed a case involving stored blood that may belong to you or your baby.

A lawsuit on behalf of Michigan parents claims that blood was “stolen” from their babies at birth. The plaintiffs lost the case, but are appealing.

Since 1984, the state of Michigan has been collecting blood from newborns and storing it. Unless your parents opted out when you were born, you are among the roughly 5 million people whose blood is being held at one of two banks — one in Lansing and the other in Detroit — that belong to the private nonprofit BioTrust. The parents of nine children sued, saying the practice is wrong.

In a 22-page decision (PDF) released last week, a federal judge ruled that the program doesn’t violate parents’ constitutional rights to make medical decisions for their children and that the plaintiffs didn’t provide enough evidence to prove it violations their Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Philip Ellison, the lawyer arguing case, says the ruling is contrary to what other courts have previously decided. He said he won’t stop fighting.

“The problem is once you let the government come in and start making medical decisions for them at newborn screening, the next thing is going to be- want happens if they want to do test or cancer treatments or controversial treatments or medical treatments that parents don’t want to participate in?” Ellison said. “Under the current judge’s ruling, the state of Michigan can just force that upon them and we feel that’s wrong.”

The attorney says he is willing to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

The BioTrust does have a form you can fill out to get your child’s blood destroyed. You can call 1.866.673.9939 or email biotrust@michigan.gov for details on that process.

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