Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rep. Sumsion's adoption bill - will it increase abortions?

Rep. Kenneth Sumsion wants adoptees and birth parents to be able to make contact when the adoptee is 30. They already can. Utah has a Voluntary Adoption Registry in which birth parents and adoptees can register. Raising awareness of this service seems a better way to handle the situation than Sumsion's bill.

Instead of a voluntary system, Sumsion wants the government to force contact on biological parents. It may not be the adoptee ringing the bell, but it will be a court-appointed official suddenly appearing on the doorstep 30 years later (in this version. There's nothing to prevent later legislatures from lowering the age.) Some parents may be delighted, but some will be horrified. What if a birth father did not tell his friends or family about his decision at the time? What if a birth mother has not disclosed it to her present boyfriend or husband? Those decisions are intensely personal, and the government has no business interfering.

The rep is supposed to make "discreet" contact, but we cannot think of any way to contact a birth parent that does not pose some risk. It may be someone overhearing a conversation, or it might be forcing the parent to hide something important from loved ones.

One former adoption lawyer opines that this law would lead some birth mothers to choose abortion instead of adoption. He feels that some women, when told that a child would have the right to seek contact with her later in life, will choose abortion instead. We don't know if it's true. But if that is a possibility, why risk it?

In sum: This bill seems unnecessary, invasive, and risky. That probably means it will pass.


Misty Fowler said...

If this was an opt-in thing, so that the birth parents could choose at that time what they want to do, I think it would be a great thing. But, I have to agree, this definitely increases the likelihood of abortion. Can you imagine this being added into the discussion between a pregnant young woman and the father? How horrifying!

The intent may be good, but the results may not be.

brownbag said...

I think the Utah legistature is the king of creating laws that contain unintended consequences.

If there is anything related to moral and personal issues, their knees jerk, the law gets made, let god or a future legislature clean it up.

Thad said...

You are obviously not an adoptee. In many things that are done surrounding adoption, people constantly proclaim "Do what is best for the child." They say this until the "child" reaches adulthood and wants to know the details surrounding their birth.

Voice of Utah said...

This is about the weighing of rights and interests. I don't think that adoptees' (understandable) desire to learn about their birth parents overrides everyone else's legitimate rights, or justifies involuntary governmental intrusion into the birth parents' privacy. In my mind, it also would not outweigh a risk of increased abortions. However, I am in favor of making the bill Opt-In, or greatly increasing the budget for the Voluntary Adoption Registry, to allow more publicity of it.

Thad said...

Statistics show that access to original birth information does not cause higher abortion rates, nor does it lower adoption rates. The states with access to open records, Alaska and Kansas, have lower abortion rates (14.6/1000; 18.9/1000 respectively for women age 15-44) compared to the national rate of 22.9 (source: Alan Guttmacher Institute)

Again, I bet that you are not an adoptee, and don't have to deal with significant issues on a regular basis. Know what your full family health history is? I don't. Know what things your mother was doing when she went into labor? My wife does, but, I don't and I can't ask her. So why does my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, get trumped by some woman's supposed right to privacy?

Voice of Utah said...

If Sumsion's bill was limited to situations involving medical emergencies, etc., your argument would have more persuasive effect (and, in fact, courts have already held that such emergencies may permit this kind of contact). You seem to suggest that only adoptees are entitled to opine on this bill; I would suggest that you try to put yourself in the shoes of the birth parents as well.

Under Sumsion's bill, the birth parent can still say no, so it does not guarantee that mutual contact will be made. Therefore, why not work toward increased usage of our voluntary system? Incidentally, I recognize your statistics, but I knew a woman who was so terrified of the biological father of her child (who was in prison at the time) that she would, indeed, have considered abortion if she thought there was any chance of future contact with the child. And if that scenario happened even once, it is too many times.