Friday, August 30, 2002

florida's adoption law

You've probably read about the furor over Florida's new adoption laws. The law balances mothers' privacy rights against fathers' parental rights. But, it does so when the father is unknown, or can't be located, and places all of the burden upon the mother. If the identity or location, or both, of the father of a child is unknown, and a child is being put up for adoption by the mother, the mother is required to place a newspaper ad to find the father:
In the ad, the mother must disclose her name, age, height, hair and eye color, race and weight; her child's name, date and place of birth; and -- if it is the address that is unknown -- the father's name. Moreover, she must also publish her sexual history -- a description of every potential father and the dates of their sexual encounters. The ad must run once a week for four weeks in a newspaper in each city or county in which conception might have taken place in the year before the child's birth.
Florida is reconsidering this law. And, it's possible that a Florida appeals court will strike it down as unconstitutional as a challenge to the law reaches the court:
Therefore, although the judge denied the women's motion to declare the entire notification provision unconstitutional, he left an opening for their lawyer as she takes her case to the Florida appeals court. The women's attorney needs to present a convincing case to the Florida appeals court of the many less intrusive alternatives that do exist.
The findlaw article does a very good job of describing how "compelling state interests" are viewed in the context of "least intrusive methods" when a right such as privacy is at issue.

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