Dan King
Dan King · June 4, 2024

NEWARK, N.J.—Today, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin and the New Jersey Department of Health doubled down on their unconstitutional policy of keeping blood drawn from every baby born in the state. A group of New Jersey parents, who filed a class action lawsuit against the state, announced they will fight on until the policy is fixed. The parents, represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ), repeatedly met with New Jersey officials to craft a solution under which the state would get parental consent to keep the blood beyond the initial screening. But the officials refused to budge.  

“New Jersey had the opportunity to fix this problem without litigation. Instead, they’ve continued to operate under the flawed belief that these baby blood samples belong to the state, not the children from whom they’re taken,” said IJ Attorney Christie Hebert.  

All 50 states and the District of Columbia draw blood from newborn babies to test for diseases. What makes New Jersey’s program uniquely bad is that it does not seek informed consent from parents to keep the blood after that testing is complete; instead, it holds onto the blood spot for 23 years without parental permission. New Jersey law also gives the Department of Health complete discretion to turn these blood samples over to police, private third parties, or other government agencies. 

“I was hopeful that we could reach an agreement that would respect the rights of babies born in this state, but New Jersey still refuses to ask parents for consent to keep baby blood after the initial screening is done,” said Hannah Lovaglio, one of the parents suing the state. “New Jersey also refuses to recognize any wrongdoing in keeping baby blood and continues to deny parents the right to decide what’s in the best interest of their own children. I’m committed to continuing this lawsuit, so all babies born in this state can be safe from this government overreach.” 

New Jersey is not alone in facing legal challenges over its baby blood retention. Texas, Minnesota, and Michigan have all faced lawsuits over their retention of blood samples without first obtaining informed consent from parents. The 2009 lawsuit in Texas resulted in the state destroying 5.3 million blood samples. A 2014 settlement in the Minnesota lawsuit resulted in 1.1 million blood samples being destroyed. And in 2022, Michigan agreed to destroy 3 million blood spots. 

“New Jersey could’ve become a model for other states that want to test babies for serious diseases while still respecting their Fourth Amendment rights,” said IJ Attorney Brian Morris. “But Attorney General Platkin’s office continues to demand that the state can keep babies’ blood after testing is complete without parental consent. To protect all New Jersey children and families, we look forward to proving the current system is unconstitutional in court.”