Jewish World Review
http://www.jewishworldreview.com | (UPI) -- Florida is trying to repair its "Scarlet Letter" adoption law by taking out the requirement that birth mothers identify and describe themselves in a newspaper advertisement.
The purpose of the 2-year-old provision is to provide possible fathers a warning that their paternal rights would be terminated if the child is adopted.
But detractors say the newspaper notice amounts to the same thing as the tag identifying unmarried mothers in Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, "The Scarlet Letter."
Under the original law, the mother's full name and physical description must be published in a newspaper within every county where "conception may have occurred." It includes victims of sexual assault.
The new measure would remove the newspaper provision and replace it with a database where fathers can register if they suspect they have fathered a child.
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.
"This takes care of all those problems," she said of the revision.
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