by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted January 7, 2009 in DNA and the Law
Following the signing into law of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) in May 2008, Illinois lawmakers also want to make it illegal for businesses to discriminate against their employees based on DNA test results.
Why do states need to pass their own laws when a national law already exists? According to the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Genetic Discrimination Fact Sheet:
Before the federal law was passed, many states had passed laws against genetic discrimination. The degree of protection from these laws varies widely among the different states. The federal law sets a minimum standard of protection that must be met in all states. It does not weaken the protections provided by any state law.
According to a table compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) of current state laws regarding the use of genetic information in determining health insurance, Illinois already prohibits insurance companies from:
- Using genetic information to establish rules for eligibility
- Requiring genetic tests/genetic information
- Using genetic information for risk selection or risk classification purposes
- Disclosing information without informed consent
States that so far have no laws in place against the use of genetic information in health insurance include:
- North Dakota
NCSL also has information on other state genetics laws including those pertaining to employment, frozen embryos, and genetic privacy. Their Genetics Legislation Database also has searchable information on genetics bills considered in state legislatures from 2004 to present.
If you live in the U.S., how does your state fare on genetic nondiscrimination legislation?
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