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ADOPTEES' RIGHT TO BIRTH PAPERS UPHELD

The Oregon Court of Appeals Wednesday upheld the nation's first voter-passed law giving adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates.

A three-judge panel unanimously held that birth mothers have no constitutional right to have the records kept confidential. The court also lifted an injunction barring the state Health Division from releasing the records.

The measure was solidly passed by Oregonians in November 1998, but it never has taken effect. A trial judge upheld the law, but the appeals court had continued a stay preventing release of records.

The law says adoptees 21 or older can obtain their original birth certificates, which often contain birth parents' names.

Foes argue that the law unconstitutionally breaches rights of privacy and contract; the court rejected both contentions.

The decision could be appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court, which would decide whether to review the lower court decision.

A total of 1,468 Oregonians had applied to obtain their birth certificates as of Wednesday, the health agency said.

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