Laws against first cousins marrying are unnecessary and should be repealed, argue two scientists in a recent Public Science of Biology editorial. The risk of genetic defects in children born of cousin marriages is estimated at 2%-3% higher than in the general population, Wired reports, but no greater than that of middle-aged women having children.
Laws against cousin marriage are based on incorrect scientific assumptions that are no longer defensible—and create a real form of discrimination, the zoologists say. "I'm aware of people who have been afraid to tell people that they're in love with their cousins, who've become pregnant and potentially terminated a pregnancy based on false information," one genetic counselor said. "Or they didn't marry the person they loved because of their concerns."