Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Handmaid's Tale: Not Just Fiction Anymore

From one of my listservs today, I received an email about this legislation pending in Indiana. I wish it was a hoax. I will be relieved if someone tells me that it is a hoax. This bill right here should be exactly why any sane person should oppose "states rights."

This sh** is just too frightening.

New law will require marriage as a legal condition of motherhood

By Laura McPhee

Republican lawmakers are drafting new legislation that will make marriage a requirement for motherhood in the state of Indiana, including specific criminal penalties for unmarried women who do become pregnant "by means other than sexual intercourse."

According to a draft of the recommended change in state law, everywoman in Indiana seeking to become a mother through assisted reproduction therapy such as in vitro fertilization, sperm donation, and egg donation, must first file for a "petition for parentage" in
their local county probate court.

Only women who are married will be considered for the "gestational certificate" that must be presented to any doctor who facilitates the pregnancy. Further, the "gestational certificate" will only be given to married couples that successfully complete the same screening process currently required by law of adoptive parents.

As it the draft of the new law reads now, an intended parent "who knowingly or willingly participates in an artificial reproduction procedure" without court approval, "commits unauthorized reproduction, a Class B misdemeanor." The criminal charges will be
the same for physicians who commit "unauthorized practice of artificial reproduction."

The change in Indiana law to require marriage as a condition for motherhood and criminalizing "unauthorized reproduction" was introduced at a summer meeting of the Indiana General Assembly's Health Finance Commission on September 29 and a final version of the bill will come up for a vote at the next meeting at the end of this month.

Republican Senator Patricia Miller is both the Health Finance Commission Chair and the sponsor of the bill. She believes the new law will protect children in the state of Indiana and make parenting laws more explicit.

According to Sen. Miller, the laws prohibiting surrogacy in the state of Indiana are currently too vague and unenforceable, and that is the purpose of the new legislation.

"But it's not just surrogacy," Miller told NUVO. " The law is vague on all types of extraordinary types of infertility treatment, and we wanted to address that as well."

"Ordinary treatment would be the mother's egg and the father's sperm. But now there are a lot of extraordinary thing s that raiseissues of who has legal rights as parents," she explained when asked what she considers "extraordinary" infertility treatment.

Sen. Miller believes the requirement of marriage for parenting is for the benefit of the children that result from infertility

"We did want to address the issue of whether or not the law should allow single people to be parents. Studies have shown that a child raised by both parents – a mother and a father – do better. So, we do want to have laws that protect the children," she explained.

When asked specifically if she believes marriage should be a requirement for motherhood, and if that is part of the bill's intention, Sen. Miller responded, "Yes. Yes, I do."

Here is the link to a pdf file of the bill (on Democratic Underground).

This law is largely Republican code for racism. We want to arrest women of color having too many children and living off the "Welfare System."

And, of course, this bill would prevent lesbians from being able to bear children via artificial insemination. I have friends, who are a lesbian couple with two children. One of the partner's got artificially inseminated. They are among the most stable and admirable family unit that I know. I can think of a great deal of "heterosexual" couples who I don't think should be granted the "gestational certificate."

Please tell me that this nonsense will end soon.

UPDATE: Here is a better link to the info on this bill (via justme). I also think that I got a bit overzealous in my condemnation of this bill (not that I don't condemn it), but it is more geared toward limiting reproductive technologies, rather than babies born out of wedlock.