Senate responds to pressure from citizens--GINA passes 95-0

Rushing to leave the house yesterday for an update on public responses to the biobank project being considered by the NIH, I had to leave the final voting to be captured on my DVR. Even at that time, it was obvious that the Senate was going to overwhelmingly approve passage of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

It was interesting after that to hear comments:

"We helped get that done," from Kathy Hudson, head of the Genetics Public Policy Center.

"Thank you, everyone, for your tremendous efforts," from Sharon Terry, head of the Genetic Alliance.

"That means someone can't refuse to hire you because you're a clone," from Tayja, my grandchildren's nanny.

There are two more steps to go:

1. The Bill must return to the House, since some modifications were made to the one that came from the House to the Senate--primarily changes requested by Senator Coburn before he would release his hold on the Bill.

2. Assuming the House votes favorably, the Bill must then go to the President for his approval. He has stated he will sign it, but you'll excuse me if I don't trust him. The last "won't it be wonderful Bill, relating to returning Federal funding to stem cell research, was his first veto.

Meanwhile, an employer is threatening to fire employees who said they don't smoke and were then found smoking. Wonder what would have happened to them if they had declared their smoking habit, were required to enter a wellness program, and then were found to be still smoking. Is the issue lying or smoking? If a new law is put into place making discrimination on the basis of genetic information illegal, will people who have had a "negative" result on a genetic test they chose to take be considered lying if they do not disclose this information to an employer or insurer?

Onward we go,

Marie Godfrey, PhD

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