Summarized by Kent Larsen
LDS Attorney's Fight Against Adoption Rights Law Ends In Defeat
Portland OR Oregonian 31May00 N2
By Bill Graves: The Oregonian staff
PORTLAND, OREGON -- Nineteen months after an Oregon adoption rights law
known as Measure 58 was passed, the US Supreme Court eliminated the last
obstacle to the law Tuesday. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor refused to continue
a hold on the law requested by LDS attorney Franklin Hunsaker of Portland
who represented six anonymous birth mothers opposed to the law.
In a last-ditch attempt to continue the fight, Hunsaker mailed a second
emergency request at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday by overnight mail, asking Justice
Clarence Thomas to reconsider Justice O'Connor's decision and put the hold
back on the law. However, by early Thursday, no news of a new hold had hit
Hunsaker may still ask the US Supreme Court for a hearing on the matter, but
the chances are now remote. Since the law is in effect and Oregon is
providing original birth certificates to those that have requested them, it
is unlikely that the Court would restore the hold.
Proponents of the law were jubilant Wednesday. Helen Hill, the art teacher
that led the fight for Measure 58, was relieved at the decision, "Wow,
that's good news," she said. "That clears out my whole day. I don't have to
stew anymore. ... It's just you can't unwind until it's over, and it's a
fever pitch, and, oh, man, I'm glad it came through."
Hunsaker, meanwhile, expressed disappointment at the result, "My clients are
extremely disappointed and scared and even angry that their rights have been
ignored by Oregon's voters and Oregon's courts." He claims that the law
violates an implied contract that birth mothers thought they had that their
identities would be protected. Hunsaker notes that some birth mothers
haven't even told spouses or other family members that they gave a child up
for adoption, leaving them in a potentially embarrassing situation.
The law makes Oregon the fifth state to allow adult adoptees access to
original birth certificates, but doesn't go as far as other states, which
also make adoption records available. A new law in Alabama will allow
adoptees access to adoption records starting August 1st.
Hunsaker has had support in his fight from the National Council for
Adoption, which proponents of the law claim is backed by the LDS Church.
Through its LDS Family Services organization, the Church arranges adoptions,
often counseling birth mothers in the process.
While the LDS Church generally doesn't get involved in political issues,
this issue may be seen as one, especially if adoption is seen as an
alternative to abortion.