S. 939, a bill introduced to the Senate by Mary Landrieu, is one of the odder pieces of legislation I’ve seen in some time. It establishes a national Putative Father Registry, assembled from all the 50 states’ own Putative Father Registries. What’s a Putative Father Registry, you may wonder? S. 939 defines it this way:
(1) IN GENERAL- Not later than the date that is 180 days after the date of enactment of this subpart, the Secretary shall establish and maintain an automated National Putative Father Registry that contains the information described in section 444(c)….
(7) PUTATIVE FATHER- The term ‘putative father’ means a man who has had sexual relations with a woman to whom he is not married and is therefore presumed to know that such woman may be pregnant as a result of such relations.
…the registry established or modified and maintained under subsection (a) shall contain the following information:
`(1) The name of the putative father (including any other names by which he may be known).
`(2) The date of birth of the putative father.
`(3) The Social Security number of the putative father.
`(4) The State of issue and driver’s license number of the putative father, if any.
`(5) The home address of the putative father.
`(6) The telephone number of the putative father, if any.
`(7) The name and address of the employer of the putative father, if any.
`(8) The name of the mother (including any other names by which she may be known).
`(9) The last known address of the mother.
`(10) The date of birth of the mother, if known.
`(11) The Social Security number of the mother, if known.
`(12) The race or ethnicity of the mother, if known.
`(13) The State of issue and driver’s license number of the mother, if known.
`(14) The city and State where possible conception took place.
So a putative father registry is like the nation’s very big little black book, a database of out-of-wedlock sexual activity. That’s really weird, and I don’t know what to think of it. On the one hand, I understand from the legislation why it exists — this is a way for men who’ve had sex with women to be put on the record as possible fathers of those women’s children, so that if those children later are removed from the mother’s custody (or if the mother dies) the putative fathers might be able to step in and claim the kids; secondarily the database exists so that kids who are on their way to being adopted can have that practical path smoothed by contacting absent fathers to formally sever their parental rights. On the second hand, this is a database into which a man voluntarily places his sexual history, so it’s not exactly like a Big Brother operation in that sense. On the third hand, the nature of sexual activity means that the sexual activities of women are entered into this database, involuntarily. And on the fourth hand, this means that the United States government is assembling a big nookie database, which frankly makes me nervous. Not personally or anything, mind you, but then again, if it did make me personally nervous it wouldn’t be, shouldn’t be any of Uncle Sam’s business.
What’s your opinion of “putative father” sexual history databases?