Sunday, December 20, 2009

Healthcare Reform: Tax Credit for Adoption

Christmas, Birth, and Healthcare
Every year on Christmas Eve, millions of Americans celebrate the birth of Jesus.

This year on Christmas Eve, approximately 31 million people will have the birth of something else to celebrate too: the chance for healthcare coverage. Healthcare reform legislation is scheduled to go through the Senate early this Thursday.

It appears that birth and adoption were on the minds of lawmakers when they drafted these new policies.

The abortion issue
PA Senator Bob Casey had a big part in changing the language of the bill to satisfy fellow Democrat senators who took issue with how taxpayer dollars might be spent on abortion. The revised bill requires an accounting system that separates private from public funds and ensures that public funds do not support abortion. Casey also added programs aimed at reducing the number of abortions, which includes support for pregnant teens and victims of abuse and--horray!--tax credit for adoption.

How this relates to adoption legislation
I definitely like the idea of adoption getting more support, though things can get tricky when it's directly linked to abortion. People who oppose the open-records and original birth certificate legislation for adopted persons often cite fears that abortion rates will go up if there is more transparency with records. They suspect birth mothers will opt for abortion so they don't have to live in fear that their relinquished child will come knocking on their door one day. Truth be told, this is just not the case. The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and the AAC have done numerous studies on this, and have found that the majority of birth mothers actually welcome the idea of transparency and the possibility to know later on that their child is doing okay. For many this idea reduces the demonization of relinquishing a child. Plus, in states that have always allowed access to original birth certificates such as Alaska and Kansas, abortion rates have either stayed the same or gone down in recent decades.

Everyone has the right to medical care, and it's about time we make that a reality in America. I'm happy to see that this new legislation is allowing multiple options for pregnant women, including adoption. But I do hope that along with these breakthroughs in policy some changes can be made to the way adoptions are handled in regard to original birth certificates and records. Let us not forget the rights of mothers--and children--when it comes to healthcare reform.

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