On January 13, 2003, Bastard Nation joined France’s adoptee rights organization Les X-en-Colore–Angry X–in a demonstration in Strasbourg, to support French adoptee Pascale Odievre and her suit to overturn her country’s Accouchement sous X laws.These X laws, permit women to give birth anonymously and allow parents to expunge their identity from all medical and official records. Since their establishment in 1941, hundreds of thousands of men and women have been “born under X” anonymously. The legacy of the X laws can be found in the United States with the passage in 42 states of Safe Haven laws which permit the “legal abandonment” of newborns anonymously. Bastard Nation is happy and proud to support Angry X in their struggle for their records and their identites. Below is the text of our remarks
THE STRASBOURG STATEMENT
Greetings from the United States! Greetings from Canada! Greetings from Bastard Nation!
It is an honor to be here today to support Pascale Odievre and Les X-en Colere in their battle to overturn the archaic Accouchement sous X laws which for decades have allowed the state to confiscate and hide the identity of hundreds of thousands of French citizens whose only crime was to be born inconveniently. We inconvenient Bastards in North America have watched closely your struggle and stand in solidarity with you our sisters and brothers.
As you may know, since 1999, 42 states in the US have passed laws similar to your X laws. (Canada has no such laws yet, but there will no doubt be an attempt to enact them there soon.)
Though the details of our own X laws–so-called Safe Haven laws–vary from state to state, they all include provisions which permit parents to “drop off” an “unwanted infant” at a Safe Haven center (hospital emergency room, fire station, police station or even a church or an adoption agency.) For those parents who are too afraid to abandon their baby in person, organizations have been established that will pick up the baby and then abandoned it for them! In at least three states, a Safe Haven is designated as “any reasonable person!” No questions are asked. No identification is required. No social or medical history is necessary.
Safe Havens are advertised as “No Blame, No Shame, No Name.” In some states, brochures, flyers, and posters are distributed in schools, churches, and places where teenagers meet to inform girls “it’s OK to dump your baby.” In some cities, stickers pleading, “Don’t throw your baby away” are glued to trash bins. In California “baby abandonment education” has been introduced into the school curriculum so everybody will know that it is not only OK to abandon your baby with no blame, no shame, no name, but that the state wants you to do it.
Unlike in France, laws in the US have not yet been passed which permit the identity of parents to be expunged from all medical and official state records, but these proposals cannot be far behind. We believe that the next step will be laws that permit women who promise to put their babies up for adoption instead of killing them (what little respect these people have for women!) to give birth not only anonymously, but at tax payer’s expense.
Recently, a leading Safe Haven advocate published an Internet essay attacking Pacale’s lawsuit, calling it an assault on the right of “anonymous choice.” He took the extraordinary measure of defending the Vichy government—not exactly known for its humanitarian impulses– claiming the Vichy X laws were an” humanitarian” attempt to protect women and children from persecution and humiliation after liberation–a liberation that in 1941 was not even a bad dream for these guys. If one wants to believe this piece of nonsense (and we don’t!) then why is a law enacted by the Vichy government to protect itself from the consequences of rape and other sexual crimes perpetrated on the female population by its Nazi associates, remaining in place more than 60 years later? Very simple. Because once identity erasure became institutionalized, it became normalized giving the new government the same benefits that it gave the Vichy government: The X laws maintained bourgeois standards of family honor, paternity and sexuality. The X laws obscured criminal and abusive sexual relationships. The X Laws relegated and continue to relegate the victims and their offspring, not to mention just plain inconvenient children, as official state secrets.
Are you a state secret?
In France and the US, the same people cry the dire consequences if anonymous abandonment is not permitted. The Church, showing little respect for women or understanding of crisis pregnancy, says women will kill their babies if they can’t abandon them with no blame, no shame, no name. Feminists, who should know better, insist that “maternal secrecy” is a reproductive right like birth control or abortion. No! Anonymous abandonment is not a reproductive right. A baby has been born, a person with a right to identity and heritage. The adoption industry declares that anonymous abandonment protects women and children. How does a system that not only encourages secrecy and government cover-up, but discourages prenatal and post- natal care protect women and children?
Crisis pregnancy, poverty, substance abuse, domestic violence, denial, shame, and mental illness are the real causes of child abandonment. X laws, and Safe Haven laws create a “trouble-free” policy that turns its back on the very women and children they purport to help. The Safe Haven promoter just mentioned says that anonymous abandonment is a response to the growing open records and identity rights movement in the US, which he sees as an assault on “the privacy of women.” He refers to Safe Havens as “non-bureaucratic [adoption] placement” for parents who find best practice standards such as informed consent, counseling and even paper-signing, too confusing and complicated. There is not one iota of evidence to suggest that those babies surrendered anonymously under Safe Haven laws were in danger of neglect, mistreatment or death. Parents whose newborns are truly at risk continue to harm.
Today Bastard Nation stands in solidarity with those throughout the world whose identity has been stolen, hidden, and obliterated by archaic laws and public policy, social engineering, and government malfeasance. We stand with The Disappeared of Central and South America and their Abuelas. We stand with The Lost Generations of Australia. We stand with those undocumented children sold in the international and domestic black markets of the world. We stand with the stolen children of Guatemala and Cambodia. We stand with those conceived through anonymous high-tech reproductive procedures with its anonymous donors that rob them of all chance of identity recovery. We stand with those adopted in Canada and the US and other countries where records are confiscated and sealed and in any other country where identity is erased for state convenience. And we stand proudly in solidarity today with Pascale Odievre, and Les X-en-Colere.
Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization
Anita Walker Field
Nathalie Procter Servant
Pamela J. Zaebst
Marley Elizabeth Greiner, Executive Chair