Tuesday, October 04, 2005
In IN, All Your Gametes Are Belong To Us 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
UPDATE: Sen. Pat Miller dropped the proposed Indiana bill Wednesday afternoon.

There's ridiculously intrusive legislation, and then there's this: a proposed Indiana law that would make marriage (and a legal "gestational agreement") a requirement for the use of assisted reproductive technologies (defined as "§ 9.5. "Assisted reproduction", for purposes of [the bill], means a method of causing pregnancy other than sexual intercourse."), and would include criminal penalties for unmarried women who become pregnant using these methods. This means now-commonplace medical procedures like IVF and donor insemination will be off-limits to everyone except government-approved families.
Sec. 20. (a) An intended parent who knowingly or intentionally participates in an artificial reproduction procedure without establishing parentage under section 15 of this chapter commits unauthorized artificial reproduction, a Class B misdemeanor.
(b) A physician who knowingly or intentionally fails to obtain the consent required under section 13 of this chapter commits unauthorized practice of artificial reproduction, a Class B misdemeanor.
(c) A person who knowingly or intentionally makes a materially false or misleading sta

tement under this chapter commits deception in establishing parentage, a Class A misdemeanor.
The wording of this legislation sounds clearly unconstitutional. In short, you have to apply to "adopt" your future child even if both sperm and egg come from the couple, as is often the case in in-vitro fertilization [Correction: under Section 4 of the bill (on page 3 of the bill text), if the sperm and egg are provided by a 'government-approved' couple the law would not apply.] When I read the bill text, I kept thinking "this has to be a joke, right?" (see excerpt below) There's plenty to ruffle civil libertarians here; but the item requiring "a description of individual participation in faith-based or church activities" violates separation of church and state by implying the petitioning parents must demonstrate membership in some form of organized religion in order to 'pass muster'.

If the Supreme Court has upheld privacy for married (Griswold v. Connecticut) and unmarried persons (Eisenstadt v. Baird) to use methods of contraception - maybe I'm wrong - I think it would be a stretch for the courts to argue these decisions are not similarly applicable to methods of conception. Broadly, the above case decisions provided for privacy in choosing whether to have children or not. Also, I would think most legal sentiment leans toward seeing childbearing as a basic human right, with the law stepping in to prevent births only in unusual circumstances.

The bill is doubtless intended to dissuade 'nontraditional' families from having children by means other than good old-fashioned slap-and-tickle - at least in Indiana. Still, it's hard to ignore the hypocrisy and twisted logic of those who would do anything in their power to prevent women - heaven forbid, unwed women - from aborting unwanted pregnancies, who then turn around and place ridiculous obstacles in front of people who desperately want to have their own children.

Could you imagine someone proposing a bill that required a woman to terminate her pregnancy (or give up her child for adoption) unless she could prove she was in a happy, financially and emotionally stable marriage and home situation with the biological father? Since these folks are so concerned about children being raised by "ideal families"? No, I didn't think so.

Reading into the hidden agenda, one could suspect that Indiana legislators were trying to convince single women, gays, and lesbians to straighten up and enter into traditional heterosexual "marriages" if they want children badly enough. Not so fast: once these "couples"' personal histories and background interviews were completed by government agencies, their shortcomings would be exposed - and no "gestational certificate" would be issued. Sorry, no children for you...and you...and you. In its practical application, this law would discriminate against specific classes of people or 'status'- not just specific behaviors.

So much for less government interference in people's everyday lives.

In short, it's not "all about the children." It's all about the control.
Sec. 12. (a) Before intended parents may commence assisted reproduction, the intended parents shall obtain an assessment from a licensed child placing agency in the intended parents' state of residence.
(b) The assessment must follow the normal practice for assessments in a domestic infant adoption procedure and must include the following information:
(1) The intended parents' purpose for the assisted reproduction.
(2) The fertility history of the intended parents, including the pregnancy history and response to pregnancy losses of the woman.
(3) An acknowledgment by the intended parents that the child may not be the biological child of at least one (1) of the intended parents depending on the type of artificial reproduction procedure used.
(4) A list of the intended parents' family and friend support system.
(5) A plan for sharing any known genetic information with the child.
(6) Personal information about each intended parent, including the following:
(A) Family of origin.
(B) Values.
(C) Relationships.
(D) Education.
(E) Employment and income.
(F) Hobbies and talents.
(G) Physical description, including the general health of the individual.
(H) Birth verification.
(I) Personality description, including the strengths and weaknesses of each intended parent.
(7) Description of any children residing in the intended parents' home.
(8) A verification and evaluation of the intended parents' marital relationship, including:
(A) the shared values and interests between the individuals;
(B) the manner in which conflict between the individuals is resolved; and
(C) a history of the intended parents' relationship.
(9) Documentation of the dissolution of any prior marriage and an assessment of the impact of the prior marriage on the intended parents' relationship.
(10) A description of the family lifestyle of the intended parents, include a description of individual participation in faith-based or church activities, hobbies, and other interests.
(11) The intended parents' child rearing expectations and values.
(12) A description of the home and community, including verification of the safety and security of the home.
(13) Child care plans.
(14) Statement of the assets, liabilities, investments, and ability of the intended parents to manage finances, including the most recently filed tax forms.
(15) A review of the local police records, the state and violent offender directory, and a criminal history check as set forth in subsection (c).
(16) A letter of reference by a friend or family member.
(17) A written consent from each donor, if known, to use of the donation in the assisted reproduction medical procedure.
(18) The recommendation for participation in assisted reproduction.
[via feministing] More good discussion on the topic at Tzuredzuregusa, Southern Voice, and feministe (several contributors there have posted on this bill, scroll down the main page to read).