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Ohio: Proponent Hearing Report – March 6, 2013. Hell Freezes Over. Ohio Right to Life Testifies in Favor of OBC Access

March 20, 2013 News No Comments

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 Frankly, these are outdated concerns, but it is this rationale that keeps 1964 – 1996 adoptees from being able to access their original birth certificate.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

 

 

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SAMPLE STATE ORGANIZATION RESOLUTION AGAINST VETOES AND OTHER RESTRICTIONS

SAMPLE STATE ORGANIZATION RESOLUTION AGAINST VETOES AND OTHER RESTRICTIONS

Any political organization seeking to enact true open records legislation should be very clear with both their constituents and the legislators they work with about what the essential provisions of the proposed bill are. Any modification or deletion of the essential provisions of a bill should be immediate cause to have the bill killed.

Any political organization seeking the assistance of Bastard Nation to pass open records legislation must hold unconditional access by adult adoptees to the original record of their birth as an essential provision that cannot be modified or deleted. Read our Mission Statement.

Bastard Nation will not assist any political organization to pass open records legislation unless their governing board or other leadership

passes a written resolution such as the following that commits the board to a strategy of no compromise on key provisions
informs its constituents of this commitment and this strategy
informs the sponsoring legislators of this commitment and this strategy.

WHEREAS we recognize that disclosure and contact vetoes, redactions, mandatory intermediaries and registry provisions are an affront to the dignity of adopted persons everywhere and a violation of their right to due process and equal treatment under the law,

WHEREAS there has been a demonstrable negative effect on the ability to pass unconditional open records in states that have passed veto legislation and/or any provisions that are less than unconditional access on demand by the adult adoptee,

WHEREAS our primary goal is to restore the right of adult adoptees everywhere to be treated as full citizens under the law,

WE HEREBY DECLARE that under no circumstances will we accept the addition of veto, redaction, intermediary, or registry provisions, or any conditional provisions to our legislation that would be less than unconditional access for adult adoptees to the original record of their birth. All legislative sponsors and members of this organization will be informed of our policy on this matter to ensure that the bill is pulled promptly in the event of such revisions.

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