Illinois Bill Would Deny Birth Certificates To Some Single Mothers

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A proposed bill would deny birth certificates to babies of Illinois single moms if they don’t name their child’s father

It’s the 21st century (last we checked) and in this magical future of ours, plenty of moms raise children on their own for a number of reasons. Whether or not a woman names the father of her child on a birth certificate should be immaterial but a pair of lawmakers in Illinois are trying to shame single moms by denying birth certificates to babies if their mother doesn’t provide the father’s name.

According to Salon, Republican state Representatives John D. Cavaletto and Keith Wheeler are trying to push through a bill that would prevent Illinois single mothers from obtaining a birth certificate for their child if they are unable to or refuse to name the baby’s father. No, there’s no exception for rape or incest or “none of your fucking business,” it’s just for everyone. Here’s how the bill reads:

“Provides that if the unmarried mother cannot or refuses to name the child’s father, either a father must be conclusively established by DNA evidence or, within 30 days after birth, another family member who will financially provide for the child must be named, in court, on the birth certificate. Provides that absent DNA evidence or a family member’s name, a birth certificate will not be issued and the mother will be ineligible for financial aid from the State for support of the child.”

So, if a single mother doesn’t name a father or another guardian, the child is unable to receive a birth certificate and the family is forever banned from obtaining public assistance. Because adding another hurdle for a potentially struggling single mother to create a good life for herself and her child makes total sense, right? This is seriously unreal.

As Ed Yohnka of the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union explains, “This is a punitive and outrageous bill that would have a hugely negative impact on those most likely in need of safety net programs and support.”

This bill makes it sound as though single motherhood should still be stigmatized as it was a few generations ago despite the fact that this country has 9.9 million single mothers, a total of 36% of all mothers.

This is truly ridiculous. No exception for rape? If a woman doesn’t know her rapist and police are unable to find him, her child is prevented from being recognized by the law? It’s complete nonsense designed to shame single mothers in any and all situations. It’s that simple.

Sure, you could argue that this forces a father to claim their own child but being a name on a birth certificate does absolutely nothing to guarantee that a father will financially support their own child. A woman has to take a man to court to accomplish that, which can be incredibly expensive. That’s why a lot of women don’t bother pursuing it. But by all means, let’s make the situation worse by denying their children birth certificates and refusing them any public assistance if they need it.

And the clause about naming another family member to provide for the child financially? Is it automatically assumed that a mother won’t be able to support her child with her own money? This bill belongs in the Dark Ages because many women become single mothers on purpose and have every intention of funding the whole venture. If she becomes pregnant via an anonymous sperm donor her child will pay the price by not having proof of their birth.

There are many lawmakers also trying to outlaw abortion. Forcing women to have a baby they either don’t want or are unprepared to care for is heinous but now, if they do decide to have the child, they can be denied a birth certificate or public assistance unless they name the father? They want women to have these babies, but on their terms. It’s appalling.

Bottom line, these lawmakers and their supporters only want babies to exist inside of their own narrow moral standards, which don’t mesh with the reality of our modern world. Targeting single mothers or putting up obstacles for them is not the way to better our society. If this bill passes, we should all be very concerned for women. This kind of shaming is purely disgusting.

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