Massachusetts H3468: Redundant ,Dumb, or Obstruction?

Just when you think AdoptionLand can’t get any more absurd, meet Massachusetts H3468, an “adoptee rights” bill mandating all Massachusetts birthparents in the future to turn over their individual and family medical histories to the state before an adoption relinquishment can be completed.  ln other words, the bill legislates, some kind of plan for birthparents to divulge medical histories “anonymously” that adoptees could receive, upon request, without birthparent names attached, at the age of 18. The bill doesn’t outline what information and how that information would be collected .or how and where it would be stored. The ill-defined bill is quite short, poorly written, and vague so for your head-scratching pleasure, I post it here in its entirety:

Chapter 210 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 2 the following section:-

Section 2 ½. No biological parent may provide written consent for adoption required by section 2 unless said parent, to the best of their knowledge, provides an anonymous family medical history, which shall include, but not be limited to: (i) any known genetic predispositions and health conditions of said parent and (ii) any known genetic predispositions and health conditions of said parent’s relatives within 2 degrees of consanguinity

The bill is brought forward by Rep, RoseLee Vincent (D-16th Suffolk) at the behest of adoptee Patricia Cassoli of Revere. Ms. Casoli told News 25 in Boston recently that she has spent “decades” working on the bill, to find her biological family members, and to learn important family medical history. She is in reunion, but no details are included in the story.

We sympathize with Ms. Casoli’s desire for medical information….but

this isn’t 1956!

Before we go any farther, let’s tale a look at the Massachusetts adoptascape

Current Massachusetts original birth certificate law

  • Adoptees born between July 17, 1974, and January 1, 2008, are denied access to their own OBCs, except by court order.
  • Adoptees born before July 17, 1974, and on or after January 1, 2008, have unrestricted access at age 18

Current legislation

  • Currently, Massachusetts has identical clean bills in both houses that when passed will level the playing field, and unseal the OBCs of everyone born between the sealed dates. H1892 S1267

Granted, the bills and earlier identical bills have been held in limbo for the last several sessions, but there is no doubt OBC access will be restored.  It’s just a matter of when  A medical history access bill, while it might seem a good idea to some opposes and harms that effort.

Unless Ms. Casloi knows absolutely nothing about Massachusetts OBC campaigns of the last 15 years, the current bills, or has no idea what she is talking about (nothing surprises us anymore)  the  Casoli bill appears to be an obstruction bill to drag out and maintain discriminatory OBC access under the friendly guise of “adoptee rights.”

What obstruction bills mean

Legislators, unless their feet are held to the fire, don’t do controversy. For some reason treating an arbitrary group of adoptees as ax-wielding loons, while their fellow bastards on either side of the access timeframe are considered civil adoptees is considered controversial. Hence, we get obstruction bills. from lawmakers and their courtiers who find equality too embarrassing, distasteful, or trivial to address.

Over the last 20 years we have seen numerous attempts throughout the country to deform OBC /records campaigns with the introduction of obstructive, contradictive, or lesser bills meant to stop unrestricted bills cold, by either holding up hearings or votes or defanging or defeating them all together.  Such tactics also separate the wheat from the chaff to get some marginal reform passed  (sweeping the dirt under the rug). which in effect shuts down a genuine state campaign for years leaving adoptees with a handful of crumbs if that.  “We gave you this…now you want that.”

In the past, medical history bills have been a common tactic by political opponents to obstruct progress and appease adoptee rights activists. Funny thing,  though. It doesn’t work. Adopteephobe fans of Einstein’s dictum on insanity, however, continue to try. Fortunately, this is 2019  and all but the dim or mercenary chew the bait. Even the least savvy adoptee rights operative knows that measures such as HB 3864 are a dead end and hurt the movement not only in their state but nationwide.

Bastard Nation has always taken a strong stand against medical history arguments as can be seen in our policy paper, Why Bastard Nation Does Not Use Medical History as an argument for access to Original Birth Certificates. 

What’s wrong with H3468

We wish that the Casoli bill were an outlier, but for two conditions specific to Massachusetts, makes that questionable.

  • extensive medical (and social) histories are routinely collected by adoption agencies and can be released under Massachusetts law to adoptive parents at any time, and adoptees at the age of 18 upon request. (Massachusetts Code 210 5D (a)(3).)
  • A search of defunct Massacchusts access bills (paragraph 1) indicates that Rep. Vincent, a member of the Massachusetts General Court since April 2014, has never co-sponsored an OBC access bill. As for  Ms. Cosoli.I have asked friends in Massachusetts about her, and have come up almost blank. None of the activists I know is familiar with her, and net surfing comes up with nothing of significance.

And these general conditions:

  • 90-95% of adoptions in the US today reportedly are open to some degree.and information can be obtained easily since parties at a minimum are identified or can be identified easily and contacted.
  • Generally. unlike adoption 40 years ago or more, ,family medical histories are part of the information furnished to adopters during the adoption process.
  • no one has a legal right to another person’s or family’s medical history, and no one is obligated to give a history to someone.
  • medical history is as good as the reporter.’s contemporary knowledge, memory, and preference. A birthparent is under no obligation to tell the truth.
  • medical histories given 18 or more years earlier are outdated and of little value,
  • anonymous medical histories maintain sealed records ideology, adoption secrets,.lies, and state mediated relationships

Rep. Vincent and Ms. Casoli’s time could be better spent lobbying access, not flogging the status quo through the General Court.and running a bill that no one wants.

According to the Legislative Calendar, H3468 was scheduled for a hearing September 10 in the Chllden,  Families, and persons with Disabilities Committee. The result is not noted. Hopefully the hearing was postponed or canceled since Rep. Vincent remains the sole sponsor.


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