About 20 percent of all marriages around the world are between first cousins. Charles
Darwin and Albert Einstein married their cousins. Wasn't Einstein considered the
smartest person who ever lived? While cousin marriage is prohibited in 24 states
within the United States, it is legal in the 26 states, legal in Canada, and legal
Now a study by the National Society of Genetic Counselors says that having a child
with your cousin raises the risk of a significant birth defect from about 3-to-4
percent to about 4-to-7 percent. According to those scientists, the difference isn't
big enough to justify genetic testing of cousin couples, much less bans on cousin
marriage. After all, raising a risk that already measures only 2 percent by 4-to-7
percent of 2 percent really amounts to nothing. Women waiting until 30 to have their
first child increases the chances of birth defects more than incest.
Rhode Island totally repealed its criminal incest statute in 1989, making all forms
of adult consensual incest legal. Ohio only criminalizes incestuous parents from
taking advantage of their children. New Jersey, as a matter of policy, does not prosecute
cases of adult consensual incest even though the laws against it remain in effect.