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A Louisiana Senate committee advanced a House bill Tuesday that would make it illegal to deceive parents seeking to adopt a child. Opponents who previously spoke against the bill did not show up to offer any counter arguments.
House Bill 568, sponsored by Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, advanced unopposed from the Senate Judiciary C Committee and will next head to the Senate floor for consideration.
The bill would expand what qualifies as adoption deception, a crime the Legislature added to Louisiana’s books last year. The expansion would allow the law to apply to a birth mother who intentionally lies in an effort to collect living expenses or other benefits in connection with a purported adoption.
Under current law, adoption deception applies to only two circumstances: when someone pretends to be a birth mother but is not pregnant when she asks for or receives payments; or when someone accepts payments from more than one prospective adoptive parent or agency at the same time without disclosing it.
The bill sparked lengthy debate on the House floor back in March. House Democrats argued that existing fraud laws already cover the circumstances of adoption deception and said the bill could lead to abuse if adoption agencies and adoptive parents use it to pressure birth mothers who change their minds.
At that time, Edmonds had amended the bill to include an exception that states the provisions would not apply to someone who, in good faith, declines to proceed with the adoption in favor of parenting the child. However, Rep. Joe Marino, I-Gretna, pointed out that the exception would only apply to someone who has already been arrested and charged with a crime.
The bill has not undergone any changes since the House floor debate on March 28.
Edmonds told the Senate committee he felt the bill does enough to protect birth mothers who simply change their minds and decide to keep the baby.
Marino said his stance on the bill has not changed.
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