Hell froze over last Wednesday (March 6, 2013) when Ohio Right to Life, dropped its decades long opposition to OBC access and testified before the House Judiciary Committee in support of HB61. We knew earlier that ORTL had dropped its opposition, but its endorsement and testimony came as a surprise. You can read this historical testimony on the Bastard Nation webpage. The testimony begins:
Some of you may know that for decades, Ohio Right to opposed opening adoption records to adoptees born/adopted between 1964 and 1996. The concerns of privacy and the repercussions for adoptive families, however, are fading with time as cultural perceptions about adoption have changed. Historically, arguments to keep the records closed were based on the idea that it would protect adoptees from potential embarrassment about the circumstances of their birth, or to protect adoptees from unwanted contact from birth parents. Frankly, these are outdated concerns, but it is this rationale that keeps 1964 – 1996 adoptees from being able to access their original birth certificate. Ohio law keeps these records closed, yet when the laws were revisited in 1996, it was decided that all adoptions finalized after that point are open unless parents choose to close their records. Even so, most younger adoptees (born in 1996 and after) will have the ability to obtain their original birth certificate from the Office of Vital Statistics when they are 21 years old. Those born in the previous window do not have this option, creating a disparity based simply on the year they happened to be born.
Ohio Right to Life is the flagship of the National Right to Life Committee. ORTL has guided policy and practice of National for as long as I can remember. For many years OBC access was a divisive factor within NRTL with NRTL co-founder Dr. John Sonne supporting adoptees and Ohio’s anti-abortion powerhouse, former NRTL president, Dr. John Willke opposing. Although NRTL does not have a national policy on adoptee rights and OBC access, individual states have looked to Ohio traditionally for policy guidance on many issues including adoption. ORTL’s refusal to support records access in the past, I believe has fueled state- RTL opposition throughout the country.. Now that the flagship has sailed into our harbor, we are hopeful that other states will drop opposition. Of course the danger lays in states where compromise is popular. and deformers, as they like to d, will offer Disclosure Vetoes, Contact Vetoes, white-outs and other restrictions as bait for possible RTL and Catholic Church support. It’s a two-edged sword.
Obviously, ORTL testimony was the highlight of last week’s proponent hearing. I attended the hearing and intended to write up a review as soon as I got home. Obviously that didn’t happen, and a second proponent hearing is scheduled for tomorrow–followed by a possible vote out of Judiciary.
Rather than me re-hashing something that will soon be “old news” soon I suggest you go Adoption Equity Ohio to read updates on the bill, accounts of the hearing, and sponsor and proponent testimony. (This is not a BN bill and we are not affiliated with AEO/ROAR). Click on Update #9 in the left-hand column which will take you to the latest news (as of today). It appears that all opposition has disintegrated with the turning of ORTL, an indication of the state of politics in the current Ohio General Assembly. The Senate companion bill, SB 23 has the support of some of the strongest anti-abort lawmakers in the state including the President of the Senate, Keith Faber, a co-sponsor.
I believe that HB61 and its companion SB23 has a very good chance of passing. Unfortunately, the bills are not perfect. “1996” adoptees (the third tier) are left unmentioned, Veto language in the 1996 law and a tiny number of on-file DVs hold an entire bastard class hostage to the whim of a few misguided biological parents.. We hope that this neglect will be addressed in a later bill, though a remedy will be tricky and no doubt controversial. Whatever happens in the future, this IS what happens now when DVs are allowed to get a toe in the door. If the DV compromise had not been made in 1995-1996, Ohio would not be stuck with today’s 3-tired system, and (if the bill passes) a 2-tired system in the future. We would be restoring the right to all Ohio adoptees to their OBCs , not just those of adoptees born between January 1, 1964 and September 17, 1996. It is now easier to unseal the records of all, when DVs are not in place.
The whole thing makes me sick. While DVs were basically an unknown in 1996, the damage they cause today is well known–yet disregarded by todaoy’s adoption deformers who wil take what they can get, thus screwing us all and subverting the movement for and the meaning of OBC access. I’ll write more about this later.
Here’s some pictures from last week’s hearing. About 60 people attended–more than I’ve ever seen at an Ohio OBC hearing.
|Long-time adoptee rights activist and BNer Pam Zaebst|
|Jake Teschler, long-time Columbus activist|
|Kate Livingston, Ohio Birthparent Group and professional ass-kicker|
|Jaimie Miracle, NARAL|
|Sundquist lawyer Fred Greenman and Adam Pertman, EBD|
|After the hearing|