Jeb Bush Has A Big Problem With Single Women

Photo: REX Shutterstock.
Yesterday, Jeb Bush announced his 2016 presidential campaign, with a rollout video that included testimonials from women of many different backgrounds talking about some of the things they've struggled with. One young woman talks about failing school while a mom talks about her daughter's autism; another woman reads about the epidemic of domestic violence. In the second half of the video, those women return to talk about how Bush's policies as governor of Florida helped solve those problems.

That's definitely how Jeb would like everyone to remember him from his eight years in the governor's office — as an advocate for women, children, and society's most vulnerable. And, while his positions on some issues that affect women, like immigration, set him apart from his Republican opponents, he's also got some serious black spots on his record when it comes to women's rights.

Here are the big ones.

He's got a big problem with single moms:
As the Huffington Post reported, the title of one chapter in Bush's 1995 book, Profiles in Character, is “The Restoration of Shame.” Unmarried women, he wrote, would be less likely to have babies if communities did more to revive stigma around out-of-wedlock births. To Bush, the days of shotgun weddings and The Scarlet Letter are times to emulate. “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,” he wrote.

The year before, in 1994, he suggested that the best way for women to get off welfare was for them to "find a husband."

While those comments are now two decades old, Bush isn’t distancing himself from them. When asked about them recently, he stood firm on the need for two-parent, married households.“To assume you can have a fatherless society and not have bad outcomes, I think, is the wrong approach,” Bush said in Poland, according to the New York Daily News.

He supported one of the craziest-sounding laws of all time:
In 2001, the Florida legislature passed a bill that would have required a single mother who didn’t know the identity of a baby’s father to publish her sexual history in a newspaper before she could let another family adopt the baby.

The "Scarlet Letter law," as it was known, required women to run ads once a week for a month with their names, ages, physical details, and dates and places of any sexual encounters that could have led to their pregnancies. While the law was struck down before it could go into effect, Bush had the opportunity to veto it and didn’t.

He's vehemently anti-choice:
A spokeswoman for the Bush campaign told the Huffington Post in March that Bush does not oppose abortion in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger. But, his record hints otherwise:

In 2003, a developmentally disabled woman was raped and became pregnant in the state-run group home where she lived. At the time, Bush tried to appoint a legal guardian for the fetus. A court eventually ruled that he couldn’t do so.

This wasn’t the only time that Bush stepped into the individual cases of vulnerable women and girls. He also tried to stop a 13-year old girl under state care from getting the abortion she wanted. Again, he was eventually overruled.

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