Most of the would-be-presidents are taking heat for some of their decisions as leaders at whatever governing level they were coasting on before stepping into the even bigger spotlight of becoming a United States presidential candidate. One of those is Jeb Bush, who has recently been exposed for a weird legal situation in Florida that made adoption lawyers squirm in their seats and single mothers downright outraged. It’s worth noting that the source of this story is a well-known liberal online publisher of social and human rights stories, but it’s also worth noting what actually happened in Florida under J.B.’s watch.
In 2001 an adoption-overhaul legislation passed that made it more difficult for unwed mothers to put up their children for adoption. Now, Jeb Bush didn’t necessarily overtly endorse it, but he let it slide, and the part of the overhaul that makes adoption lawyers shake their heads and represents virtually no common sense was the portion that “required any woman who wanted to put her child up for adoption, but didn’t know who the father was, to take out an ad in a local newspaper listing her name and description, as well as the name and description of each possible father and the locations where the baby could have been conceived.”
You mean she has to literally broadcast her sexual histories to the entire community “before attempting to find stable homes for her children”? Yes, that’s what the law did. No wonder they called it the Scarlet Letter law. The law wasn’t exclusive of rape, either, so women who had been sexually assaulted had to document their encounters in a public forum. And no, that’s not traumatizing at all (we’re rolling our eyes here).
And if you’re one of the adoption lawyers who’s cringing right now but can’t remember the outcome of this legal drama, don’t worry it has a happy ending…Eventually. The state courts did find the law unconstitutional, but not before it passed by a 30-8 vote and no veto from Jeb Bush (who claims he was told “the newspaper-reporting language would get fixed”). And what has Republicans and conservatives, adoptive families and unwed mothers alike shaking their heads about this sad tale is that the outcome of the law wasn’t exactly what was intended.
What was intended? We know, it’s kind of hard to guess at: apparently it was the idea that the law was designed to keep “potential biological fathers from coming back and taking children out of adoptive parents’ hands,” which does happen occasionally, according to adoption lawyers. But instead, the rates of abortions rose. In the first six months after the legislation went into effect, “there were almost 2,000 more abortions” than in the previous year. That’s not what potential adoptive parents wanted.
So Jeb Bush did repeal the law once it was declared unconstitutional. But he may not have the best track record as far as adoptive rights go—adamantly opposing gay adoption in the state for years. But hey, that’s just politics, right?