Friday, September 14, 2007

Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act (GINA)

My Congressional Rep., Louise Slaughter, sponsored a House Bill to protect Americans from workplace and insurance discrimination based on their genetic profile. Currently, there is no certain legal protection against such discrimination. One result is that people are discouraged from being genetically tested when knowing test results might help them to better prepare for or treat a genetic disease. In addition, if the hopes of some medical researchers for "personalized medicine" pan out, genetic testing would play an even more important role in preventive treatment. (I'm putting on hold other concerns we may have about personalized medicine.)

GINA is the result of over a decade of work and advocacy. The need for such a bill was raised already in the early 1990s. It passed the House in April with overwhelming support--the vote was 420 to 3.

There is also support for the bill in the Senate and from the President. However, Senator Coburn from Oklahoma has used Senate rules to place a "hold" on the bill, which prevents the Senate from voting on it.

There is more information here and here.
And Representative Slaughter has a petition to sign here.

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