The claim that hospital-grade facilities are necessary at abortion clinics is clearly bogus and designed simply to close clinics. Since the law passed in 2013, 22 of 41 abortion clinics in Texas have closed, and approximately more than 750,000 women in Texas live more than 200 miles from an abortion provider. In 2012, only 10,000 women lived more than 200 miles away.
LAWS MADE BY MEN
In large part--because most legislators continue to be men--male legislators* are the driving force behind the prevailing belief that first mothers need to be "protected" and allowed to continue to be anonymous from their children. Yes, there are notable exceptions, such as Helene Weinstein in New York, and others, who continue to block efforts by adoptees to repeal these laws, and who like first mother Ann Rivers in Washington, add annoying caveats that limit access. And as I wrote last week about a particular case, male judges uphold the laws. When Lorraine and others testified in New York at a legislative hearing, two male judges spoke of the havoc that would ensure if the records were unsealed; they were followed by a male attorney, Aaron Britvan, a major adoption attorney (some call him a baby broker) in the New York City area.
When the legal language may say that the records were sealed to "protect the integrity of the adoptive family," what that means in practical terms is to "protect the adoptive family" from being bothered by the natural birth mother, who is not likely to forget her child. E. Wayne Carp makes clear the compelling factors behind the sealed-records laws in his book, Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption.
The deeply ingrained thinking is that natural mothers need to be shielded from the fruits of their "sin." Protecting their reputations is more important than allowing adoptees to have essential medical records--and the essential knowledge of who they were at birth, who they are descended from.
HARMING INSTEAD OF 'PROTECTING'
When we scrutinize this argument, what becomes apparent is that the real "sin" of unwed mothers is having a baby outside the bounds sanctioned by men. These children, treated as legally fatherless, were to be kept secret and be given to a couple whose lifestyle conformed to the rules of patriarchy, Granting a right to mothers to keep these children a secret--a right which the overwhelming number of mothers don't want--reinforces male power by legitimizing their fear of disclosure. The sealed record laws actually harm a great many mothers because the laws stymie and often prevent their children's searches for their mothers.
In order to avoid the harsh penalties imposed for having a baby not sanctioned by a man, many women turned to abortion. Now many male legislators have responded to women's choices by restricting the right to abortion, which is the ultimate way to control women's bodies.
Now obviously, not all men have a need to control women's fertility--Roe v. Wade was decided by seven men--but men today are the strongest opponents of legalized abortion--and unsealing records.--jane
Lorraine here: Twice when I have lobbied in Albany, I've met a woman who is a female legislator's aide, and she's always been particularly discomfited by my visit and arguments. Last time, when I was leaving, I said to her out of earshot of the adoptees who were with me--It's personal, isn't it? And she nodded Yes. My guess? Either she or her boss is a mother in the closet. I hate it, but after learning the truth about Yvonne, my opposition friend who admitted just before she died she had a "first" child, that's now what I think. It wasn't about being an adoptive parent; that would have made her more defensive; this was just flat out uneasiness, as if she understood, didn't like hearing about adoptee angst and stolen identity, but couldn't take the step to open her heart. Those sealed-records laws did so much damage to everyone.
AND IN OTHER NEWS: Sheldon Silver, the former New York State Assembly speaker, has lost his license to practice law after his conviction for fraud and extortion. "Shelly" as he was known, obstructed our decades-long attempts to undue the 1936 law that sealed original birth certificates in New York. Obviously we didn't have enough money to pay him to get our bill out of committee--even though it appeared that we had the votes to get it passed. Silver was disbarred the other day. He will be sentenced on April 13, the same day that Dean Skelos, the former head of the New York Senate, also will be, along with his adopted son. Skelos also just let our bill sputter and fester. He replaced the long time head of the Senate, Joe Bruno, who was also convicted of fraud, and acquitted of five felonies. The charges were overturned on appeal and the state decided not to retry him. He is of course, a man, and he is also an adoptive father. Bruno and Silver were just as important as any governor during their time in office. Skelos less so, but he still was the Man in charge.
* Like women who opposed the Equal Rights Amendment, women who opposed unsealing birth certificates are either extremely naive, or protecting someone--if not themselves.
This Thursday, 3/31, 6:30-8:30 (plenty of time for questions, my reading is about 45 minutes) I'll be speaking about the true cost of adoption to natural mothers and their children, and reading from Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption at the Modern Family Center of Spence-Chapin, 410 E. 92nd, Manhattan. Although some have reservations about me reading at an adoption agency, their website offers search help for those adopted through Spence-Chapin, Louise Wise and Talbot Perkins. It's on the website of the Modern Family Center. And they have been most welcoming. I'm not sure what to expect, but I know they hope to have a varied group.
If you are coming, they ask that you register, but last minute walk-ins are welcome! Link here:
Laws written by men
Impact of Texas clinic law
Roe v. Wade Fast Facts
Adoptee denied medical history
Washington representatives sell adoptees and birth mothers short