Scarlet Letters


Florida's crazy Scarlet Letter Law will go before the state's Fourth District Court of Appeal tomorrow. The attorney general's office isn't even going to try to defend the law, which requires women to advertise their sexual history in the paper before they can put a baby up for adoption, if they don't know who the child's father is.

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  1. I’m disappointed. I always found the advertisements a great way to meet girls.

  2. “Democratic state Sen. Walter “Skip” Campbell was one of the chief sponsors of the bill. He didn’t write it but “took all the heat” when the ads attracted national ridicule and is sponsoring a revised version that “does away with that silly provision,” he said.”

    Those pesky little words just keep jumping into laws all by themselves. Just like the Eli Lilly liability cover in the Homeland Security Act, nobody seems to know who the fuck put it in there.

  3. Wow…talk about sloppy legislation.

    It seems the concept of placing the “reproductive rights” of unmarried men on an equal or comparable footing with that of women is fundamentally flawed, considering that the many consequences of a pregnancy are in no way equally born by mothers and fathers. Seems like another classic example of government inserting itself into private matters and just making a mess of it.

  4. Richard et al.:

    While I strongly agree that men are at a significant disadvantage in these reproductive issues, this is often due to biology and cannot be remedied. Women get preggers, men don’t.

    I have no sympathy for a woman who conceives and who then rants about a man’s failure to use birth control. It is *her body, and *she is the one who becomes impregnated if contraception is not used, so the burden is ON HER. By the same token, men simply have to assume that casual sexual encounters may result in a child. And if that happens, may result in child support.

    But requiring women to publish their sexual history in order to do the right thing for the child (which adoption frequently is) is demeaning and unacceptable. I have serious qualms about abortion — and there men have little if any choice — and cannot imagine a better way to promote it than to shame women who opt for adoption.

    To my mind, and as grandmother whose son is seeking a custody order so his coke-addled former girlfriend doesn’t make good on her threat to run with the kids to CA (we are in Indiana), and as a lawyer who has practiced family law, my greater concern for men is the strong bias in favor of mothers in custody fights. Now, with small children, all things being absolutely equal, I think the kids are better of with mom. But things seldom are equal, and sometimes the father is clearly the more fit and stable parent.

  5. Once the father is identified through the ads, he should have the right to demand an abortion for his child rather than allow adoption.

  6. Tim, that is not feasible. By the time a woman knows she is pregnant and has decided on adoption, intitiated the process, run an ad, a father has established his paternity, and then made his demand of an abortion known, by the time all of that has occurred the mother is almost certainly in the last trimester of preganancy, if not already delivered. And of course, no one has the right to force surgery on an unwilling woman.

  7. Of course not. This would be a fine reason to legislate that a (potential) father can give the
    (potential) mother a choice: abortion, or raise the child with no support from the father, who in turn renounces any present or future claim to the child.

  8. It’s amazing what a complicated issue unwanted pregnacies are. A lot of people seem to be assuming that a man would not want to raise or support a child he concieved by accident. Personally, I’m the opposite. Should I be careless enough to do so, and my relationship with the mother failed, I would want full custody of my child. Why should it be assumed that the mother should have custody in these cases? I’d want to raise my child and have her send me child support.

  9. While I strongly agree that men are at a significant disadvantage in these reproductive issues, this is often due to biology and cannot be remedied.

    It can’t be completely remedied, obviously. But certainly a man should have no legal or financial obligations towards a child he didn’t want born, beyond the cash value of an abortion and related medical care. And certainly if a woman doesn’t want to raise the child, the father should at least be asked if he’d like to.

  10. Mona:

    Regarding your previous post, you are indicating then, that the man has no recourse? basically, he’s screwed (pun sorta intended) with a child he doesn’t want walking around, eventually wanting to find him, while the mother can get off scot free if she wants to?

    dontcha think that’s kinda inequitable? And it sucks?

  11. “But certainly a man should have no legal or financial obligations towards a child he didn’t want born, beyond the cash value of an abortion and related medical care.”

    Wrong. You pay, you play. If you are a man who does not want to impregnate a partner, both of you should be using some form of birth control. If you are dumb enough to get a random partner pregnant, than you should pay the piper. The kid has to eat and it is both parents responsibility to make sure he or she does. Promoting abortion as a method of birth control is pretty pathetic.

  12. Scott — while I see your point, please bear in mind that the average American will experience birth control failure at least once in his or her lifetime.

    Birth control devices are not reliable, and the modern world does need to address the issue of unwilling parenthood and can’t just dodge it with “pay to play” metaphors.

  13. That’s why I said BOTH partners should be using birth control. When both partners use some form, the reliability goes to five nines. Beyond that, you could get sterilized or just don’t do it. But if you father a child, you are financially responsible, end of fuckin’ story. Like my dad says, be a man.

  14. Grant — your comment that birth control devices are unreliable only adds to the responsibility of those who have sex without regard to potential consequences. In today’s world, men know (or should know) as well as a woman does that sex may lead to pregnancy no matter what precautions are taken.

    To then argue that a man should not be responsible for the outcome because he voted to abort the baby — and that the woman (and the state) must be purely responsible for the child since the woman chose not to abort — ignores the fact that the man accepted this risk when he had sex.

    The pay to play metaphor is more accurate than you want to admit — you are simply putting the emphasis on the woman’s later choice whether or not to abort, which is part of the risk a man takes when he has sex with a woman.

  15. JenL: You prove my point about the inequitability of the system. The woman can choose to terminate the pregnancy, the man cannot. This isn’t about “being a man”. This is about the woman having all the “chopice” and the man having none. Incidentally, I’m personally opposed to abortion, but since it’s the law of the land, shouldn’t there be some equity here?

  16. Steve: That’s exactly the argument my brother makes, and he and I can never agree or convince each other. My view is that the man sleeps with the woman *knowing* that if she gets pregnant, she may choose not to abort. If he chooses to sleep with her anyway, why should the cost of raising the child go to the state (welfare, school lunches, medicaid, etc.) rather than to the man who took the risk?

  17. OK, Richard changed my mind. Fuck the children. Let ’em starve.

  18. Whatever happened to good old shotgun weddings?

  19. I’m not sure what Florida adoption law is like, but when I lived in Arizona, if a mother incorrectly identified the father, and the real one turned up later, he could nullify an adoption and get custody of his child.

    It didn’t matter if five years had pasted and he worked at K-mart, the adoptive parents and birth mother couldn’t do anything about it. Since it’s obviously wrong to either take a child from it’s father, or to take a child from a loving family that’s raised it, the goal is to find a way to protect both the fathers and the adoptive family. The Florida law is creative, too bad it tramples all over the birth mother and her sexual partners’ rights.

  20. This is all starting to sound like an episode of Maury Povich or Jenny Jones…

  21. I agree with Jen. I am opposed to abortion, and the last man I was sexually active with was well aware of this. He did not want to be stuck with child support if I conceived, but since I’ve had my tubes tied and am 45, the odds of a conception are surpassingly low. He took that risk; I did not conceive. If I had, I would certainly have expected him to contribute to the upbringing of the child.

    We had an extensive conversation of reproductive issues before we were intimate. If others do not, oh well. The innocent child is still entitled to parental support.

  22. Hey, Mona. At what point during foreplay do you pull out the contract for the lucky dude to sign?

  23. EMAIL:

    DATE: 12/10/2003 05:49:26
    You do a good work, keep it going

  24. EMAIL:
    DATE: 12/20/2003 09:55:11
    ‘Of course’ is cyanide of the mind.

  25. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/09/2004 03:16:13
    It is wise to apply the oil of refined politeness to the mechanisms of friendship.

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