Mary Ann Roser
December 8, 2010
A federal class action lawsuit filed today in San Antonio claims the state “deceptively and unlawfully sold, traded, bartered, and distributed blood samples” from newborns in exchange for fees, lab equipment and otherpurposes.
The suit was filed against the Texas Department of State Health Services and its commissioner, David Lakey, by the Texas Civil Rights Project on behalf of two parents, Jeffrey Higgins of San Antonio and Andromida McCall of New Orleans. It alleges that the use of the samples was an unlawful “search and seizure” that violated “fundamental privacy rights.”
The plaintiffs claim the state has “no legal authority to ‘seize’ the blood for commercial and police purposes and keep it indefinitely, without consent.”
The blood was collected from the babies as part of the state’s mandated Newborn Screening Program, which tests blood spots on virtually every child born in Texas for 28 genetic disorders, some of them deadly. The Statesman published an article in May describing how the state swapped and sold blood spots to private companies that make testing kits and supply products to the state lab.