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Publication Date

Fall 1996




American Bar Association




Privacy is a major issue in medical law, and genetics is a major force in contemporary medical science. Nonetheless, the combination of these two fields has only recently been seen as central to both individual rights and medical progress. Disclosures in June of 1996 that White House officials had wrongly acquired and read FBI files of raw background checks of prominent Republicans reminded Americans that there is no such thing as a completely secure and secret file of personal information. Had these files contained DNA profiles or samples, they would have supplied additional information about the unsuspecting individuals-information that could be used against the individuals without their knowledge. In late June 1996, Senator Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) introduced S.1898, the Genetic Confidentiality and Nondiscrimination Act of 1996 (GCNA), which was based in large part on the proposed "Genetic Privacy Act of 1995" (GPA) drafted by the authors.' This article outlines the purpose and provisions of the GPA. Along the way, it highlights some of the differences between the GPA and the GCNA.

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