Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Every Sperm Is Sacred

In Indiana*, perhaps, and also in the Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. But Indiana has the advantage of being nonfiction. According to Amanda of Pandagon:

Indiana's legislature is considering a law mandating that a man better get laid if a baby is being made. Seriously, that's pretty much how the bill is worded.

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."

What the proposal would do is make it illegal for unmarried people to use artificial reproduction (surrogates, donated egg and/or sperm). Only married people could do so legally, and even then they would have to fill umpteen million forms about their wholesomeness, income, emotional problems and hobbies, including faith-based activities. And their homes would be checked. Sort of like adopting a child.

The Kos diary Amanda links to has more information on this proposal. Its sponsor is Patricia Miller:

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 raise
issues 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."

But nowhere in the draft do I see anything which would make it illegal to have a baby while unmarried, as long as penis-in-vagina is used. It's only artificial aids to reproduction which are disallowed for those not married. I think this is all about trying to make it impossible for lesbians and gays to have children.

But note that in the section discussing surrogate mothers the proposal explicitly states that not only would the gestational mother have to sign an explicit contract with the intended parents (who must be married) but also her husband would have to sign it, and he would also have the right to dissolve the contract before the surrogate mother becomes pregnant. Thus, he would have a right to determine what his wife does with her body. There is nothing comparable about sperm donations, or is there? If a married man donates sperm does his wife have to agree and does she have the right to terminate the contract? I don't know, but all this smells funny to me.

It smells like the Handmaid's Tale, actually.

You can read the proposal here: