Q: Some folks have told me that there’s still a blood test requirement for a marriage license here in Montana — and it’s just for women. Is it true? I thought all the myths about similar blood types were dispelled?
Beverly K., Bozeman, Mont.
A: In Montana, a waiver called the Informed Consent/Waiver of Requirement of Blood Test is needed to skip the process and get a marriage license; both the bride and the groom have to sign it, or the bride must get a blood test for rubella (if she’s under 50 or hasn’t been sterilized). Most other states don’t require a blood test at all.
Previously, blood tests were almost universally required (for both parties) for a marriage license. Early on that may have been because there was a mistaken belief that knowing your blood type could tell you if you were somehow related to your future spouse or that, like you mentioned, people with similar blood types shouldn’t marry. In the 1930s and early 40s, it was a way to ID folks who had syphilis or gonorrhea — neither of which could be cured until penicillin become available in 1942. But once antibiotics made the scene, most states dropped their blood test requirements for a marriage license.
It’s hard to say why only women are checked in your state, Beverly. But since women could protect their fetus from birth defects by postponing pregnancy if they had rubella (German measles), screening must have seemed like a smart move. Despite the fact that a rubella vaccine became available in 1969, Montana still checks for the disease. If you think your state’s marriage certification process is unfair, write your local representative to petition for a change, or take a drive to neighboring Idaho, Wyoming, North or South Dakota, where neither blood tests nor waivers are required to get hitched.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at firstname.lastname@example.org.