Sep 9, 2002
A law passed by the Florida state legislature has just taken effect. It modified another law requiring women who want to give a child up for adoption to notify the father. This modification requires any woman who doesn't know who the father of her child is to place an ad in a newspaper in the city where the child was conceived. In the ad, not only must she list her own name, but also describe herself and any man who could have fathered the child. Supposedly this is to give a man the chance to proclaim his paternity rights.
Of course, if a male who provided the sperm had acted like a father in the first place, a woman might not be forced to give up a child for adoption. It takes a lot more than procreation to show responsibility for the life of a child. But responsibility for children is not what's on the Florida legislature's mind here.
The proof is – the law does not make an exception even for victims of rape and incest. So a woman who was brutalized is supposed to widely publish the details of her victimization – in order, what? – to give the rapist the chance to claim the child? Is the Florida legislature trying to tell us the child would be better served by being handed over to a rapist?
This law sounds exactly like the punishment handed down by religious leaders three centuries ago – to shame a woman in public for being a "libertine," that is, for having a child outside of marriage.
And, just like three centuries ago, in their desire to pander to the most reactionary views, the Florida legislators trampled all over the interests of children.