(Health-NewsWire.Net, March 25, 2015 ) St. Louis, Mo. -- Introduced by state Sen. Anthony Sykes, Senate Bill 733 would make it mandatory for both partners to submit to blood testing within 30 days of applying for their marriage license. The bill states that a marriage license would be granted only if "in the opinion of the physician, the persons named therein are not infected with syphilis or other communicable or infectious diseases or if infected, that such diseases are not in a stage which may be communicable to the marriage partner."
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There are numerous reasons this bill will not work. For example, it could potentially lead to the release of confidential health information. According to Oklahoma's News 9, when the full text of the bill is read, it implies that copies of the test results would be kept by the office that grants the marriage license. This could violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a federal law designed to ensure the confidentiality of medical records in the United States.
Additionally, Oklahoma previously required syphilis testing prior to marriage, but eliminated it in 2004. There is a simple reason for this. It is not necessary. NewsOK.com states that the Oklahoma State Department of Health reports that five new cases of syphilis have been identified in the past five years, through 300,000 have been performed.
Today, one state, Montana, requires a premarital blood test. However, up until 1980, as many as 34 states still demanded a blood test before marriage.
According to a study completed at the University of Notre Dame in 2009 and led by Kasey Buckles explains that blood test requirements "were enacted in the first half of the twentieth century as part of public health campaigns to reduce the spread of communicable diseases and prevent birth defects. The laws required couples applying for a marriage license to be screened for certain conditions, commonly rubella or syphilis.
However, after penicillin proved to be a cheap and effective treatment for syphilis and vaccines were developed for rubella, these screenings were no longer considered cost-effective."
In simple terms, Sykes is simply trying to breathe life into an old and largely discredited idea. Sykes, an attorney, began serving in the state Senate in 2006; two years after Oklahoma repealed the blood testing requirement.
Currently, Sykes hasn't managed to find a cosponsor, but his proposed bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee, which he chairs.
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