Lawmakers again hold controversial birth-father bill
Lawmakers again decided to hold debate on a bill that addresses a biological father's rights in an adoption proceeding.
Rep. Christine Watkins, D-Price, said she will continue to tweak HB308, which would require agencies or attorneys to send notification to any out-of-state presumed father to inform him of a potential adoption in Utah. The biological father also would be able to submit an intent to file for paternity and then have 30 days to do so. Current law provides a much smaller window of time for a father to file for paternity.
Two hours of testimony strongly argued for and against Watkins' bill in a House Health and Human Services Committee meeting Thursday afternoon. Birth mothers, parents of biological fathers, attorneys and adoptees gave heartfelt stories about their experiences with the adoption process.
Those supporting the bill cited stories of birth fathers purportedly being shut out of the decision-making and being denied their parental rights.
Those opposing the bill feared it would delay adoptions because of the 30 days given to birth fathers to file their paternity and they also said the bill would infringe on birth mothers' privacy.
Many of the lawmakers said they have been contacted by people on both sides of the issues. Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, said he was moved by the heart-wrenching stories he's heard, but he said that it's impossible to create a law that always prevents bad things from happening to good people.
"This bill may change the type of tragedies we have, but will it really decrease them?" Daw asked.
After the testimony, lawmakers voted 5-3 to hold the bill while Watkins attempts to answer the concerns of the opposition.