Wednesday, October 05, 2005

fun stuff in orwellian indiana

It’s late in the afternoon and I really gotta get some stuff done. But this can’t sit on the back burner. Maybe it’s a distraction technique. Maybe it’s supposed to get folks up in arms. Well, my arms are up.

You should know that Indiana is considering legislature that would make it illegal to use assisted reproduction (i.e., IVF, sperm donorship, egg donorship, etc. – anything other than your garden-variety intercourse) without a Gestational License issued by the State. Not just unfunded – where you can’t get State funds to help you out – but plain ol’ illegal. Against the law.*

*Update: State Senator Patricia Miller (R) has dropped the bill. I would guess there was a sizeable outcry against it, although she's saying "the issue has become more complex than anticipated." Good call, Patty. We'll be keeping an eye on you. Keep reading if you haven't heard about this, though. Good to know this stuff is going on in our free country.

Are you creeped out yet? It gets worse. Check this out: a doctor can’t start any of the procedures captured under the proposed law unless you have this special license. To get the license, the first requirement is that you have to be married.

Any alarm bells yet? Because that pretty much rules out reproductive assistance for common law marriages, single women who want to have a child of their own using a sperm donor (no matter how high their income level, how strong their support system, or how motivated they are to reproduce.) And of course it completely rules out assisted reproduction for lesbians. Gawd forbid. (I can't figure out if it includes surrogate moms for gay men, but I'm sure they will find a way to bring it under this cheery umbrella.)

It gets worse, if you can believe it. Once they’ve established that you’re married, more evaluation criteria are used to make sure you and your spouse will be good parents. This is similar to the hoops they make adoptive parents jump through. Here are some examples:

Some of the required information includes the fertility history of the parents, education and employment information, hobbies, personality descriptions, verification of marital status, child care plans, letter of reference and criminal history checks.

A description of the family lifestyle of the intended parents is also required, including individual participation in faith-based or church activities.

Media Girl has thoughtfully extracted the really creepy sections for our perusal.

This is absolutely recommended reading. Not just for the content (bad enough in itself), but for the mindbending conflict of trying to fit the subject matter, an extraordinarily important, complex, and painful one, into legalese. It’s sickening.

Obviously, this gives government another way to limit basic human rights to a select group who share the values and practices of those who hand out the Gestational Licenses *shiver.* Obviously, if I ever needed help reproducing I would not be going to Indiana to do it, or to any state with such a law on the books. My mental health history and my religious choices in themselves would be enough to disqualify me – although without the Buddhism I might be able to get a psychologist to give me a clean bill of mental soundness, which is a requirement as well.

Maybe this legislation won’t go through – as I understand it, this hasn’t even been formally presented to the Indiana House. Someone mentioned in one of the articles I read that this is grassroots – fundamentalist people rising up to help regulate a previously unregulated activity. But the other part of the vise grip is the Supreme Court we’re looking at for the next twenty years or so – with two to four seats in Bush’s camp (at least until Ginsberg gives Roberts the progressive education he’s lacking at the moment.)

Personally, my civil liberties are starting to feel a little squashed – kind of like a reactionary mammogram from hell.

Tell me, folks, why the dig there about faith-based or church activities? There’s already a section about hobbies and other interests. Why would a state form require information on that for this license? Why not just leave it at hobbies and interests, or even better, not give a license at all and instead foster the kind of communities that give all families the support they need to raise their kids well?

Ah. There it is. See it – that roach, crawling up the side of the door when you open the fridge at four in the morning looking for the milk? Yeah. Nasty looking bastard. What he’s about is making sure that those communities and those families are all the same – that they all share the same values, worship the same God in the same way, have sex with the same kinds of people in the approved positions for social well-being. For the kids, you know. Because a child will obviously do much better in that kind of a culture than in one that is organically, joyfully diverse. Because that kind of a culture is a lot easier to evaluate – easier to judge.

Hey, I’m not unreasonable. I want kids to be protected from idiots, too – and yeah, sometimes said idiots happen to be their parents, which sucks. But I will be damned if I’m going lie back and let a state organization pull my life apart and jot it down in their clipboards, then judge me, as if their legislative wisdom is better than my instinct as a parent or a person. Fuck that.

I will be damned if I will let this kind of reproductive fascism into my fair, if sometimes misguided, state. I will be damned if I will sit back and watch in silence as my sisters and brothers who need help having babies are forced to suffer through more indignity, embarrassment, and judgement – as if the processes of IVF and fertility treatments aren’t bad enough. I will be damned if I will hold my tongue when a lesbian woman whose home is full of love, comfort, and joy, is automatically denied medical assistance for reproduction, simply because she’s a lesbian. Fuck that. I don’t know that I could stop it in Indiana, but if that whacko crap starts coming down in North Carolina and it starts to involve my hard-earned tax dollars, you’re gonna see one stubborn nontraditionalist mama camping out on the lawn of the State House.

Bad enough to know somewhere in the back of my frightened mind that Roe v. Wade might very well be overturned in the next five to ten years. Bad enough – and now this? Next they’ll be asking for a gestational license when you go to the doctor for your first prenatal exam. And if you can’t produce one, what the hell are they going to do? Probably call the Uterus Cops and throw your reproducing ass in jail.

Fun stuff, indeed.


SB Gypsy said...

OMG, Outrageous!! I've posted a link to here on my blog - (not that I have any more readers that you don't...)

EB said...

Isn't it interesting that one of the most patriarchal cultures of all time, those wiley ancient Romans, still left reproduction completely and utterly in the hands of females. The punishment for a Vestal virgin breaking her 30 year chastity vow was burial alive, but other than that, women had complete control over their reproductive organs. Charming times we lived- oops sorry, live in.

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Kiki said...

completely horrifying, but is it a bad sign that i'm not surprised? there's often an unfortunate correlation between religion and misogyny. and let me add, i had the bad luck to live in indiana for a couple years. my boyfriend and i were not allowed to rent one particular apartment there because we were unmarried and the place only had one bedroom. that state is a mess.

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