After 62 years of negligible results, Massachusetts stopped its requirement that couples applying for a marriage license have a blood test. Yesterday a bill repealing the requirement became law and took affect as of January 28th, the previous Friday.
Massachusetts was way behind the curve on this one. According to Dr. Alfred DeMaria, the Department of Public Health (DPH) director of communicable disease control, under a dozen states still require a blood test for a license.
As in other states, the test became a mandate during the post-WWI fears of syphilis. It turns out, according to the DPH, that it found few cases and was expensive. When syphilis was common, they expected to find one in 10 applicants with the disease, but found about 1%. Now that figure is much lower and the test had been costing the public about $2 million annually.