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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended June 04, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 01Jun00

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 the newswires.

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.


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