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Jeb Bush's 1995 Book Supported Public Shaming Of Unwed Mothers

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who will likely be announcing his 2016 run for Republican nomination for president after months of fundraising, reportedly called for unwed mothers to be publicly shamed in a book that he wrote in 1995.

Bush's book "Profiles in Character" included a chapter called "The Restoration of Shame."

According to The Huffington Post, the chapter states in part:

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 referred to Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 novel "The Scarlet Letter," which was about a village forcing a woman wear an "A" for "adulterer" as a positive example.

Bush wrote, "Infamous shotgun weddings and Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'Scarlet Letter' are reminders that public condemnation of irresponsible sexual behavior has strong historical roots."

Hawthorne was writing about the societal hypocrisy of the town, not advocating public shaming.

Bush wrote in another passage, "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."

The New York Times reported in 2003 that Bush repealed Florida's "Scarlet Letter" law only after it was struck down by the courts, but he refused to veto it when it passed into law in 2001.

The controversial law made women and teen girls who were going to put their newborn babies up for adoption list their names and likely locations of the sex acts that probably caused the pregnancy in local newspapers.

Bush refused to stop the bill on the condition that the publication part be revised, but the law was struck down by the courts.

Bush has not yet commented about reports from his 1995 book.

Sources: The Huffington Post, The New York Times
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr


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