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Jeb Bush Defends His Book That Called For Shaming Unwed Moms (Video)

Former Republican Governor of Florida and likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush defended a book that he wrote in 1995 that longed for the days of shaming unwed mothers.

Bush was asked about the shaming passages in the book by reporters in Warsaw, Poland, today (video below), but quickly switched the topic to the "importance of dads being involved in the lives of children."

Bush stated, "My views have evolved over time, but my views about the importance of dads being involved in the lives of children hasn’t changed at all. I was speaking about it in the policy context and the focus was on men." notes that part of a chapter entitled "The Restoration of Shame" in Bush's 1995 book "Profiles of Character" stated:

One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame.

Many of these young women and young men look around and see their friends engaged in the same irresponsible conduct. Their parents and neighbors have become ineffective at attaching some sense of ridicule to this behavior.

There was a time when neighbors and communities would frown on out of wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus for one to be careful.

Bush also wrote, "Society needs to relearn the art of public and private disapproval and how to make those to engage in some undesirable behavior feel some sense of shame."

According to MSNBC, Bush also stated in Poland today:

In fact, since 1995 … this book was a book about cultural indicators [and] the country has moved in the wrong direction. We have a 40-plus percent out-of-wedlock birth rate.

It’s a huge challenge for single moms to raise children in the world that we’re in today and it hurts the prospects. It limits the possibilities of young people being able to live lives of purpose and meaning.

Bush told MSNBC that he could not recall the "Scarlett Letter" law in Florida that he did not veto in 2001, but did repeal in 2003 after the courts struck it down.

“I don’t remember what the repeal was, I can remember the purpose of the law was to enhance the ability to collect child support because men have the responsibility of taking care of their children," Bush told MSNBC.

However, the law was actually about adoption and custody challenges.

According to The New York Times in 2003, the "law required single women planning to put their infants up for adoption to first publish their sexual histories in a newspaper if they did not know the identity of the father ... That provision was intended to notify fathers who might want to exercise their parental rights before an adoption occurred to reduce the likelihood of a custody challenge later."

Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Holly Shulman responded in an email to MSNBC: "Shame on you, Jeb."

Sources:, MSNBC, The New York Times
Image Credit: MSNBC Screenshot


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