Ohio: Proponent Hearing Report – March 6, 2013. Hell Freezes Over. Ohio Right to Life Testifies in Favor of OBC Access
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 Frankly, these are outdated concerns, but it is this rationale that keeps 1964 – 1996 adoptees from being able to access their original birth certificate.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.
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