Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Illegal Motherhood and Unauthorized Reproduction

Today I received the article below. It is written by a reporter with NUVO, a local opinion paper here in Indy. It appears that the Republican members of the Indiana state legislature are trying to make it illegal for unmarried women to give birth to children. Read it and weep. Hopefully this will get laughed out of the Capitol building, but I doubt it will.

The Crime of "Unauthorized Reproduction"
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, every woman
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

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 thin! gs 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 treatments.

"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."

"Petition for parentage", "gestational certificate"--these phrases send chills down my spine, and I'm not even a woman. I thought Republicans were supposed to be the small government people! Does this mean we will be fining Susie Suburban when she gets in a little trouble? Or are we going to build in a tax break for Susie's dad as part of the bill? One friend of mine reminded me that to access contraceptives in Indiana in the 1930's one had to be married, have the approval of an MD, and already have 2 kids. It won't be long before this will actually start to sound a little progressive.

Oh, and by the way, regarding this line: " Studies have shown that a child raised by both parents - a mother and a father - do better. " I hear that phrase all the time and always ask the speaker to please provide me with the studies they reference. I HAVE YET TO HAVE ANYONE BE ABLE TO PRODUCE THEM. I've gone looking for them online. I even e-mailed "family expert" Maggie Gallager for them when she mentioned this "study", and heard NOTHING!

Update: Miller decided not to pursue this legislation. Mary Beth Schneider from the Indianapolis Star reports:

...State Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, issued a one-sentence statement this afternoon saying: “The issue has become more complex than anticipated and will be withdrawn from consideration by the Health Finance Commission.”

I hope to post more on Senator Miller later. She is a powerhouse idealogue.


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