AUSTIN (April 7, 2009)--The Texas House of Representatives gave initial approval Tuesday to a bill that could curb disputes over a controversial policy that allows the state to keep babies' blood for research.
Blood spots from newborns are used to screen them for 27 different birth defects and disorders.
Since 2002 the state has set some of the samples aside to be stored for possible research.
The bill approved Tuesday would require parents be told of the practice after the birth and how to opt out and ask for the blood samples to be destroyed.
Although the blood spots are identified only by numbers in storage, parents and civil rights groups say the policy goes too far.
The Texas Civil Rights Project filed a federal lawsuit last month against the Texas Department of State Health Services and Texas A&M University saying the practice violates constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure.
The bill’s author, Denton Republican Rep. Myra Crownover, said only six families have requested their babies' blood spots be destroyed.
The bill approved Tuesday places the responsibility on parents to ask that the blood be destroyed.
Other lawmakers had sought to make if an opt-in program, where the parents would have to authorize storage and use of the blood.
The measure must get final approval in the House before going to the Senate.