La. House advances bill granting adopted people access to original birth certificates
BATON ROUGE, La. (LSU Manship School News Service) - The House voted 75-21 Monday night to advance a bill to grant adopted people access to their original birth certificates with their birth parents’ names.
Rep. Charles Owen, R-Rosepine, sponsored the bill, which would grant the right to adoptees age 24 or older to learn the identity of their birth parents. He chose that age because of Louisiana’s forced inheritance laws. After 24, a child is not entitled to inheritance.
Currently, the only way for an adopted person to access their original birth certificate is to appear in front of a judge with compelling reasons. Compelling reasons can be topics such as health and inheritance. This is not possible without hiring a lawyer, which Owen believes is not possible for all Louisiana citizens.
“Grown people should have access to their documents,” said Owen.
Questions arose about whether the bill would violate the privacy of birth parents. When children are adopted, they receive new birth certificates with the names of their adoptive parents. But, Owen argued that the bill is about letting a person access a vital government record with his or her name on it rather than initiating meetings with parents.
“That is your document that the government holds,” said Owen.
Rep. Greg Miller, R-Norco, proposed an amendment that would reach out to birth parents for consent before authorizing the release of birth certificates to adoptees. If consent was not given, adoptees would receive a redacted form of the certificate.
Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R- Shreveport, opposed the amendment, arguing that with all the DNA technology available like 23 and Me, anonymity no longer exists.
“There is no expectation of anonymity, it does not exist,” Seabaugh said. “It might have existed in 1980. It might have, but it does not exist now.”
Miller’s amendment failed to pass in a 23-73 vote.
Rep. Beryl Amedee, R-Gray, although in favor of the bill, noted that Louisiana Right to Life and Louisiana Family Forum opposed the bill.
“They fear the passing of the bill might lead to an increase in mothers choosing abortion over adoption,” Amedee. “Now what we heard today is the statistics that are available show otherwise.”
According to Owen, Alabama saw a significant decline in abortions after adopting a similar law.
“This is not an abortion issue,” argued Seabaugh.
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