On July 15, 2021, Maine LD560 became law without the governor’s signature. The measure amends the state’s Safe Haven law to authorize the use of Safe Haven Baby Boxes at fire stations and ERs where “desperate mothers” can anonymously drop their inconvenient newborns.
This linked article is short, and perhaps longer ones will follow with more sage advice. Meanwhile, we get the thoughts of HD560 sponsor, Rep. Patrick Corey. Corey is adopted and recently learned about his birthparents, but is happy to create a law that undermines Maine’s OBC access law and can keep others from the knowledge that he enjoys.
We know that this not the absolute best option for someone who is giving up a baby, this is one final backstop before someone puts a baby in a box and puts it in front of an emergency room door. Worse, possibly leaving it in a park, hoping that some passerby will look in the box and realize there’s a baby is in there. Things like that happen.”
Bastard Nation submitted testimony in opposition (and here) The ACLU took a neutral stand, though tilted against the bill, arguing that comprehensive sex education in schools, and family planning and sexual health services trumped anonymous box dumping. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine flip-flopped; first submitting bizarre testimony in opposition and then sending a second testimony in support. (See below)
Naturally, the bill received overwhelming support from our evangelical and anti-abort friends who never met an adopted person who should just shut up and be grateful they weren’t tossed in a garbage can. Unless, of course, said adoptees belong to the Do-Bee “good adoptee” branch of our AdoptionLand family The rest of us can just seek therapy. Or as some “pro-lifers suggest,” kill ourselves.”
All submitted testimony on LD560 can be read here. This compilation contains some of the most weird-ass pro and con baby box testimony I’ve ever heard. Take Maine Right to Life’s Executive Director Karen Vachon , an advocate of sex shame, who must have watched Way Down East at her mother’s knee:
Imagine the fear a young passive small town gal may feel: She misses her period. Could it be – she’s pregnant? Living in a rural community, isolated from friends, feeling confused – the feelings include denial, anxiety, and fear. To tell, or not to tell? She casts the changes happening in her body aside – and does nothing, denial has set in. She hopes it will go away. Suddenly she finds herself in labor, delivering a baby alone. She doesn’t want anyone to know; she just wants the whole ordeal to go away. She doesn’t want to hurt her baby – she wants her baby to go to a good home, without anyone knowing she ever had this baby. What she does next could affect her emotional, mental, and physical well-being for the rest of her life.
You think this is bad, here’s the opposition testimony of Suzanne Lafreniere, from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine Office of Public Policy. Ms. Lafreniere invokes the ERA at length in her opposition statement, burying the lede in her word salad. The ERA????? I first thought she was objecting to the measure because it gave women the same right to skip town that men have enjoyed for eternity when an inconvenient baby pops out. I had to read this testimony several times to make some sense of it, and I still can’t—exactly. Keep in mind she’s a lawyer.
Note to Attorney Lafreniere: please read a bill first before you testify. Safe Haven Baby Boxes are not funded with taxpayer dollars.
Here’s a sample:
The Diocese of Maine STRONGLY supports equal rights for women. Women are made equal in dignity to men. Women are made equal in dignity to men. Women should have equal rights in employment laws, insurance, finance laws, family law and disability laws, etc.
However, a woman is not exactly the same as a man. The most obvious difference is that only women can bring new life into the world. Children and all people must be protected at every stage and every condition. As previously stated, we all possess a basic human dignity.
The ERA website’s frequently asked questions section admits that the ERA has been used in other states to force tax payer funding for abortions. “State equal rights amendments have been cited in a few state court decisions (e.g., in Connecticut and New Mexico) regarding a very specific issue – whether a state that provides funding to low-income Medicaid-eligible women for childbirth expenses should also be required to fund medically necessary abortions for women in that government program. Those courts ruled that the state must fund both of those pregnancy-related procedures if it funds either one, in order to prevent the government from using fiscal pressure to exert a chilling influence on a woman’s exercise of her constitutional right to make medical decisions about her pregnancy
If this bill were amended to protect unborn children, perhaps the Diocese of Portland could consider supporting it. However as written, there is nothing equal about a law that could require funding that strips away the right to life for unborn children permanently.
With friends like this, do we really need enemies? I am sure that Monica Kelsey, founder of SHBB, Inc is shaking her head as much as I am over this.
Then it gets weirder. A corrected copy of Ms. Lafreniere’s testimony was submitted later—totally different—in which the bill, sans ERA yabber-jabber, is now supported. Oddly the original testimony remains online. Did her Diocese handler take a look at the original and ask “What kind of fuckery is this?” Whatever. Lafreniere 2.0 is equal to the task.
The current Department of Health and Human Services guidelines on safe haven note that confidentially is key.
This is true for other state’s safe haven laws as well. There is a distinction to be made between confidentiality and anonymity. As an adoptee myself, I understand that adoptees may want to know information about his/her birth family. Maine has a way to make that happen: it’s called the adoption reunion registry.
Note to Attorney Lafreiniere: Please understand how Maine adoption records law works before you testify. And NO. You do not understand the difference between confidentiality and anonymity.
(1) Maine has had an unrestricted OBC law in effect for 12 years. All Maine-born adoptees, at age 18, can receive their OBC without restriction or condition, at the age of 18. The Original Birth Certificate for a boxed baby is irrelevant since… well…it has no information on the document that lists the name of biological parents and child or an accurate date and page of birth. It is useless for search or identification purposes. Baby boxing is NOT a form of confidential relinquishment/adoption. It is legalized anonymous baby abandonment.
(2) I can’t speak to the Maine situation, but other states that have restored the right to OBC access and have maintained state-reunion registries report little use—less than before.
I can’t remember the last time I read about a newborn discard or murder in Maine. In fact, If I could go back into my files (unfortunately, in storage in Columbus) I could check, but I think there were only one or two cases over a very extended period of time. Maine doesn’t even appear on the SHBB, Inc chart (updated August 2, 2021), implying that there haven’t been any reported discards in five years. So now Maine has a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s called marketing. It’s called consumerism. Build it and they will come,
ADDENDA, August 18, 2021 1:09 PM. After I published this blog I received revised Maine statistics from a trusted source. According to this source, there were six traditional safe haven cases in the state between 2006 and 2015. (1 each in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013, and 2015). There was one discard case in 2015. That’s it. One in the last 15 years.
Originally published in The Daily Bastardette on August 18, 2021