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Support the Genetic Information Nondiscrimation Act

by Jennifer Wider, MD

The United States Senate has unanimously passed S. 1053, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. This landmark legislation would prevent insurers and employers from using an individual's genetic predisposition to a disease as a basis for denying them health coverage or a job. Health insurers would be prohibited from using predictive genetic information to deny, change, refuse or renew, or change the terms, premiums or conditions of coverage. Employers would be barred from using this genetic information in making employment-related decisions, such as those related to hiring, firing, or promotions.

Now it is time for the U.S. House of Representatives to take similar action and pass S. 1053.

At this historic time, it is critical for genetic nondiscrimination legislation to be passed and signed into law. As you know, scientists have completed deciphering the DNA sequence of the human genetic code. This new knowledge is allowing doctors to develop better ways to diagnose, prevent, or treat diseases. Without comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, patients will be reluctant to participate in important clinical studies that require genetic testing and forgo life-saving treatment-further impeding medical and scientific research. In order for genetic research to fulfill its vast promise to improve the health of all Americans, patients must be able to receive its benefits free from fear that their genetic information will be used as a basis for discrimination in health insurance or employment.

What can you do? You can contact your representative to urge them to support S. 1053. Please either call or fax a letter to your Congressional representative. For a sample letter drafted by the Women's Health Research Coalition or to find how to reach your representative, click here.

The Society for Women's Health Research is the nation's only not-for-profit organization whose sole mission is to improve the health of women through research. Founded in 1990, the Society brought to national attention the need for the appropriate inclusion of women in major medical research studies and the resulting need for more information about conditions affecting women. The Society advocates increased funding for research on women's health, encourages the study of sex differences that may affect the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, and promotes the inclusion of women in medical research studies. Dr. Donnica Moore has been a member of the Society since 1990 and is a past member of its Board of Directors.

Created: 10/15/2003  -  Jennifer Wider, M.D.
Reviewed: 10/15/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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