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Privacy vs. Common Good

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We Americans cherish our privacy. It's been said that good walls make good neighbors. Though the drafters of the Constitution did not specifically set forth "right to privacy", some say it is understood and implicit throughout that revered document.

But what if the future health and well being of our citizens, especially our children, would be negatively effected by exercising a strict interpretation of privacy rights? What if parents, who are uninformed, refuse to permit researchers to review their children's health test results in order that debilitating diseases and chronic health problems might be prevented or even eliminated by future generations? Would that be neighborly? Would that be right? David Agus, M.D., has written a book about health, health care, and disseminating research regarding health care titled The Lucky Years. In one section he relates that in 2015, conservatives in power forced legislation that required parents to consent to allowing researchers to view semi-anonymous heel-prick test results. These heel-prick test results have been common in our country for 50 years and most parents are quite familiar with the process. The heel of a newborn is pricked with a needle and a few droplets of blood are taken. All newborns are beautiful and they all look so innocent, scientists can see what hidden problems might be lurking under the surface and these tests are necessary to detect debilitating conditions such as PKU, congenital hypo thyroidism, cystic fibrosis, galactosaemia and fatty acid oxidation disorders. The results of neonatal heel-prick tests have contributed to medical research cures and treatments for at least 50 years but now, due to some politicians beliefs that their constituents need privacy protection , nearly one-half of the parents asked to give their consent for further research have refused. Their refusal can delay or even prohibit scientific advancements. Major studies have already been effected. The results of these heel prick tests, as previously stated , are semi-anonymous, in that they only report gender and ethnicity. It seems that we, as Americans, espousing American values, would see, in balancing things, little harm and great benefit would be gained in contributing to research. But when the word "privacy" is mentioned, many recoil and assume "no" is the only response that should be given. Perhaps relaxing our guard and realizing that we are giving up so little , at least in this case, we would readily consent for the sake of the greater good. And it is ironic that conservatives that espouse protecting the rights of the unborn, would throw up barriers to those rights if they conflict even the least little bit, with their steadfast position on privacy. Oh, well, like my father used to say, "there's no use being stupid unless you show it!"

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Phone: 724-320-2388
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Davis & Davis Attorneys at Law

Davis & Davis Attorneys At Law