Gov. to veto birth certificate access bill

Gov. Chris Christie is preparing to issue a conditional veto this morning of a bill that would have allowed adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates.

The bill, sponsored in the senate by Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-19), would have allowed for a one year opt-out period when birth parents could request non-disclosure of their personal information. After that, access to the long form birth certificate would be unrestricted.

The conditional veto the governor is planning to issue instead opts for the provisions of a competing bill that would appoint a confidential intermediary to seek out the birth parents and obtain the OK to release the original birth certificate or at least family medical history.

If the intermediary is unable to find the birth parents, the certificate would be released to the adoptee.

“After closely studying the bill, and listening to the many sound and sincere ideas for reform, I agree with the sponsors that it is time for a new approach to adoption records in New Jersey that eliminates the burdensome requirement of obtaining a court order to access basic familial information. While the goals of their legislation are laudable, I do believe the administrative structure used to implement those reforms must be carefully constructed to avoid any unwanted breaches of privacy, and the potential chilling effect on adoptions,” the governor said in a release.

Advocates of the original bill that received support from both houses of the legislature were stunned by the veto and said the governor’s alternative is more about reunions than civil rights.

“We crafted a civil rights bill that got support in both houses,” said Peter Franklin, a member of adoptee advocacy group NJCARE.  “This is a reunion bill that still puts someone in charge of our rights.”

The bill, which has been the subject of debate in Trenton for 30 years,  was opposed by an unusual conglomeration that included New Jersey Right to Life, the American civil Liberties Union, The Bar Association and the Catholic Conference.

The full test of the conditional veto is below:

Gov. to veto birth certificate access bill