Jeb Bush under fire for 1995 suggestion to ‘publicly shame unmarried mothers’ –

In it he described the phenomenon of single-motherhood as essentially contagious, whereby a young woman who sees an unmarried friend or neighbour become pregnant will be more likely to do the same herself.

The cure, Mr Bush contends, is “ridicule”.

“There was a time when neighbours and communities would frown on out of wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus for one to be careful,” he wrote.

Mr Bush pointed to “shotgun weddings” and a classic of American literature to emphasise his point.

“Infamous shotgun weddings and Nathanial Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter are reminders that public condemnation of irresponsible sexual behaviour has strong historical roots,” he argued in the book.

A controversial “Scarlet Letter law” went into effect in Florida during Mr Bush’s tenure as the state’s governor. It forced mothers who did not know the identity of their child’s father to publish their sexual histories in a newspaper before putting the child up for adoption.

While Mr Bush declined to veto the 2001 bill, he repealed it two years later following a legal challenge.

In the same chapter of the book, Mr Bush also suggested that shame was a good motivator for the unemployed to seek work.

Mr Bush is typically considered the most moderate of the leading Republican presidential contenders.

The long-awaited launch of his presidential campaign will take place on Monday in Miami.


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