in Pennsylvania's First Congressional District's_1st_congressional_district
and the Central Garden State

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

URGENT - Pa's HB 162 and NJ's S873/A1259

Were We Sleeping?

"State Rep. Kerry A. Benninghoff (R., Centre) introduced HB 162 over the summer to give adoptees who are at least 19 who were born in Pennsylvania access to their original birth record without redactions - the same access all other Pennsylvanians have....The Pennsylvania House passed it, 197-0, in October [emphasis added]. It has a hearing before the Senate Committee on Aging and Youth chaired by Sen. Bob Mensch (R., Montgomery) on March 18, and, if approved, it could get a full Senate vote and head to Gov. Corbett's desk by summer" (Bills in Pa., N.J. would open adoption records, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/24/14).

 The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference has a special web page to contact your state senator on HB 162:
"Adoption is a deeply personal and emotional decision for birth parents. It is a loving and life affirming choice; but each adoption decision may be grounded in very different circumstances.

"Open adoption that allows continued communication between adoptees and birth parents is the right choice for some; but others may wish to keep their identities private, rape victims for example.

"House Bill 162 would require the Pennsylvania Department of Health to provide a summary of an adoptee's birth record without the consent of the birth parents. It would open all adoption records, even if there had been a promise of anonymity provided long ago. Because it will violate confidentiality agreements made with birth parents long ago, this legislation is unfair and could dissuade birth parents today from choosing adoption for their babies and opting instead for life-ending choices.

"Please respect the concerns of all parties involved in adoption proceedings and vote no on HB 162."

You can also email all four of Bucks County's state senators (i.e., Sen. Greenleaf, Sen. McIlhinney, Sen. Mensch, and Sen. Tomlinson), asking that they oppose HB 162.

On the Other Side of the Delaware

New Jersey Right to Life is asking our pro life families and friends in the Garden State to: "Contact your State Legislators and Governor Christie Now! Tell them to Reject Bills S873/A1259."  That legislation could come to a vote, as early as today!  The NJRTL link allows for emails to be sent to Governor Christie, Lt. Governor Guadagno, and members of the Jersey legislature:
"I am writing to ask you to please oppose Bills S873/A1259. The bills ignore the rights of birth parents who wish to retain their privacy and will remove the option of privacy in future adoptions.

"These bills are very similar to legislation that was conditionally vetoed by Governor Christie in 2011. The Governor's conditional veto provided a fair compromise that protected the rights of all parties in adoption. Unfortunately, a vocal minority of organized advocates have rejected the Governor's recommendations and any attempts at compromise whatsoever to protect the rights of birth parents who still do desire privacy. This was made apparent in advocates' testimonies during recent legislative hearings and in a 2/11/14 article in which quotes their spokesperson saying, 'they won't accept the changes suggested and are prepared to fight on for more years to see their preferred version - with access to the birth parent's names on the birth certificates - enacted.'

"S873/A1259 does not contain adequate protections for birth parents who placed children for adoption in the past and want continued anonymity. It also takes away the option of anonymity in future adoptions for women in crisis pregnancies who may only consider adoption if they can be guaranteed confidentiality. The bill has a non-binding contact preference option which is meaningless because it still allows the long form copy of the birth certificate to be provided which contains all the identifying information of the birth parent(s). Since 1979, NJ law requires the provision of medical history information by the birth parent at the time of adoption. Proponents of these bills are misrepresenting and manipulating abortion statistics to cause confusion and garner support for this legislation.

"A common sense approach leads to the conclusion that if you take away the right to privacy in adoption, those who desire privacy in this most personal decision will reject adoption and may choose abortion. The state should be encouraging more adoptions, not placing obstacles in the way to make it more difficult for women to choose adoption.

"The 2011 conditional veto of the bill to open adoption records sought to preserve the spirit and goals of current bills, S873/A1259, while also protecting privacy that had been assured to birth parents by law at the time they placed a child for adoption.

"The Governor's recommendations would help the vast majority of adult adoptees obtain the information they seek. The Governor's recommendations would allow an adoptee to obtain an original birth certificate without involvement of the courts. This would be a significant achievement.

"Also, under the Governor's recommendations an adoptee could enlist the services of a confidential intermediary to conduct a diligent search for the adoptee birth parents and through the intermediary an adoptee could obtain the birth parents' consent for additional contact.

"Moreover, if an approved intermediary was unable to locate a birth parent following twelve months of diligent investigation, the State would then release the original birth certificate to the adoptee if so requested.

"Clearly, these changes would transform adoption law in New Jersey - a transformation to the benefit of adoptees, but advocates of opening sealed birth certificates have publicly stated they refuse any compromise that would protect those birth parents who continue to desire privacy. We believe the law should protect all parties in adoption, not just the vocal minority of organized individuals who have lobbied to change the law.

"Please Vote No on Bills S873/A1259. Thank you."
"Both supporters and opponents of the measure, (A-1259/S-873), say they support giving more access to medical histories....Opponents of the measure want to allow birth parents to have their names redacted from the adoptees’ birth certificates and to let them provide medical histories through an intermediary, without identifying information....New Jersey Catholic Conference Executive Director Patrick R. Brannigan said the conference supports giving full access to medical histories, as well as cultural and social histories, as long as identifying information is not included [emphasis added]" (NJSpotlight, 2/11/14).


  1. Shame on you for your stance of HB162. Denying the restoration of the rights PA adoptees had until 1984 is not a matter of church doctrine, and one need not oppose adoptee rights to be a faithful Catholic. Additionally, the catechism refers to opposition to assisted reproduction on the basis of a child's right to have a mother and father known to him. Where's the consistency in applying this concept??

  2. Please note that the above post is nearly 9 months old, & that the Pa Catholic Conference has inactivated its alert on HB 162. I do not have additional information to indicate why.

    With regard to assisted reproduction, the Church distinguishes between ART methods that assist the marital act and ART methods that replace the marital act. Please see the second part of Dignitas Personae (# 11 to # 23). Thank you.


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