Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I Will Fear No Evil...

... meet "The Handmaid's Tale"

"The Handmaid's Tale", if you haven't read it, is possibly Margaret Atwood's single most disturbing book. It chronicles a post-bioholocaust USA turned into the 'Republic of Gilead' - a religious republic. However, the book is more about equality rights, feminism and the relationship both topics have with religion.

"I Will Fear No Evil" is one of Robert A. Heinlein's secondary mind-screws. Set in a distant future where urban society has turned into a cross between Orwell's 1984 and what we saw take place in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina blew through.

Both of these books are works of fiction - or so I thought, until I ran across this little gem in my morning travels through the web.

Let me get this straight - lawmakers in Indiana are trying to establish a law that would prohibit anyone who is not married from accessing reproductive technologies (such as in-vitro fertilization). The prohibitions are strict enough that the people would be classified as felons once convicted. In a lot of the United States, a convicted felon is unable to vote. So, in effect, someone will have their voting rights stripped from them if they are convicted - for having a baby!

The attack on women's rights is undeniable and obvious. Who are the most likely to be convicted? - Women - remember, the woman has to carry the baby for 9 months or so - hardly something readily concealed by all but the horrifically obese. Theoretically, the male participant in "assisted reproduction" could be convicted as well, but I doubt that men would be prosecuted very often - if at all.

The legislation talks of "Gestation Certificates" from the courts - a concept that only Robert A. Heinlein's most fevered imaginings could come up with. Of course, the stripping of people's control over their bodies is chilling (and echos "The Handmaid's Tale" all too clearly)

While I doubt that this particular piece of legislative stupidity will ever see the light of day, the fact that it is being discussed at all is deeply worrisome - especially when it would do little more than drive people underground - possibly even into dangerous worlds of "back-alley medicine". When access to basic natal health care is already out of reach for many, it seems foolish in the extreme to write legislation which would result in criminal charges being laid against someone should they seek help.

The legislators are, of course, falling back on studies which claim that "a two parent household" is the best environment to raise children in. That's nice. Anybody checked the studies of outcomes for children raised in households that have same-sex parents, or single parents? Guess what? The outcomes are just fine. Where do problems emerge - usually when issues like poverty come into play.

Instead of legislating morality - it would be nice to see these twits actually try to tackle the problems such as poverty. (and spend a little less time making dystopian fiction reality!)


Lori said...

Honestly, this is the sort of thing that makes you wonder if you stumbled across a book review... oh, wait! This is the Fort Wayne, Indiana newspaper!

What I don't understand is why the newspapers throughout the nation aren't all over this story.

And to think I used to wonder whether teaching literature was actually effective in preparing young minds for the world awaiting them.

Grog said...

I can only hope that the bill is the equivalent of what in Canada would be called a "Private Member's Bill" - something cooked up by one or more legislators, but stands little chance of seeing the light of day once tabled in the legislative house.

Or - I could be mistaken and civil/human rights in the US are under a much greater threat than I had imagined.