(TRENTON) – Assembly Democrats Vincent Prieto, Joan M. Voss, L. Grace Spencer and Charles Mainor on Thursday expressed disappointment over the governor’s conditional veto of legislation that would have given adoptees in New Jersey access to their medical history and birth records
The bill (S-799/A-1406) received final legislative approval by a vote of 44-26-2 in May. Sponsored by Prieto, Voss, Spencer and Mainor, the bill would have established a system to allow adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates and family medical history.
The members vowed to review the conditional veto to ensure the rights of adoptees are still being respected and to weigh the next step.
“Knowledge of family medical history is paramount for individuals faced with a health crisis and adoptees are no exception. This legislation would have granted them access to information they are denied at no fault of their own,” said Prieto (D-Hudson). “I’m concerned about the potential consequences of the Governor’s conditional veto and will carefully review his version of the bill.”
“The purpose of this bill was to give adoptees access to information that is readily available to everyone else, so that they could make the best health care decisions possible for themselves and their families,” said Voss (D-Bergen). “I will be examining the administration’s version of the bill to ensure it upholds the right of adoptees to know their medical history and background.”
“Adoptees did not have a choice when it came to their adoption, but they should have a choice when it comes to making educated health care decisions for themselves and their families,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “This legislation gave them leverage by making their medical information and birth records available to them. I expect the Governor’s version of the bill to do the same and I will be thoroughly reviewing his unfortunate decision.”
“The plan that was approved by the Legislature and has now been revised by the Governor was meant to give adoptees basic information that could be beneficial in managing their health care and that of their families,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “I will be looking at this revised version along with my colleagues to ensure the right to medical information adoptees are asking for is protected.”
Under the bill approved by the legislature, the birth parents of individuals put forward for adoption in New Jersey would have one year from the enactment of regulations to submit a request to the state registrar for non-disclosure.
During this year, adoptees would be able to contact the adoption agency they came from to get non-identifying medical information, including a family medical history, alerting them to any genetic predispositions they may carry for certain types of illnesses.
After birth parents have had an opportunity to opt out of disclosure, an adopted person 18 years of age or older, an adult direct descendant of an adopted person if that person is deceased, or the adoptive parent or guardian of a minor adopted person, would be able to request from the State Registrar a copy of the adoptee’s original birth certificate.
Birth parents would be required, after the year allotted for them to opt-out, to submit a preference form for how they would like to be contacted: either directly, through an intermediary or not at all.
If the birth parents choose not to be contacted, they would have to submit medical and cultural information which would be provided to an adoptee when they receive a redacted version of their birth certificate.