Friday, April 25, 2003
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Florida Strikes Down "Scarlet Letter Law"

It's about time. Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeals Wednesday struck down the state's infamous "Scarlet Letter Law." From CNN:
The court...said the state failed to show how the rights of the father or the state could outweigh the privacy rights of the mother and child "in not being identified in such a personal, intimate and intrusive manner."

"It subjected women to public humiliation and harassment for no benefit," said Mariann Wang, an attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. The law required a mother who wanted to put her child up for adoption to take out newspaper advertisements listing her name, age and description, and the descriptions of any men who could have been the father. The ads had to run once a week for a month in any city where the child was believed to be conceived.
I'm glad to see some level-headed people finally saw through this "law" that seemed like something straight out of the 18th Century. Unbelievably, this 2001 statute actually required women who were victims of rape or sexual assault to publish the details of the incident in newspapers (including the incident date(s), and their names), in case the "father" chose to claim his parental rights to the child.

A revised bill is expected to establish a database where potential fathers can register their infomation, and thereby claim paternal rights should a child they fathered go up for adoption. From UPI:
The revised bill is making its way through the Florida Legislature. It is headed for a vote on the floor of the House but has two more committees to clear before it reaches the full Senate. Sponsors of the original bill said it was intended to improve the adoption process. They said the advertisement requirement was not designed to punish women, but to make sure fathers had a chance to know about their children before they are adopted. But officials involved in adoptions said the newspaper provision caused some women to cancel the adoptions rather than face public humiliation.

"Mothers who found out early enough were actually having abortions," said Angela Quick of the Family Support Center in Port Orange. A Palm Beach County attorney challenged the law on behalf of six women, including a 12-year-old rape victim. The judge ruled that rape victims do not have to advertise, but that only applies in Palm Beach County. State Sen. Lynn Ormond, R-Ormond Beach, sponsored both the revision in the Senate and the original bill when she was a House member.
Of course, a person might wonder about the parental suitability of a man who waits until he sees his name in the "baby for adoption - possible fathers listed" section of a newspaper to come forward.

There. Now maybe I'll stop boycotting Florida orange juice; the old 1970's Anita Bryant flap was bad enough before the last Presidential election and this boondoggle happened.