Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Sometimes, in their zeal to ensure that gays remain second-class citizens, legislators produce proposals so breathtakingly wacko that you have to wonder whether you have wandered into an alternate universe.


Such a proposal has been offered—presumably, with a straight face—by Indiana State Senator Pat Miller, the author and sponsor of a measure entitled (and I am not making this up) “Unauthorized Reproduction.” The bill would require every woman in Indiana seeking to become a mother through “assisted reproduction” to file for the government’s permission. For purposes of this legislation, “assisted reproduction” is not a reference to the sort of “assistance” most of us have reproducing—rather, it is intended to mean the use of in vitro fertilization, sperm donation, or similar technologies.  The bill requires the wannabe mother to file a form called a “petition for parentage.” And only married women would be entitled to be issued a “gestational certificate.” (Ya gotta love the language!)


The draft of the law further provides that an “intended parent” who “knowingly or willingly” participates in an artificial reproduction procedure without the express approval of the all-knowing, all-powerful state, will be guilty of a crime—a class B misdemeanor. The doctor who facilitates this heinous crime against humanity will also be subject to criminal sanctions.


So, single women who have decided not to wait for Mr. Right are out of luck, along with gay men or lesbians who wish to have children by “unauthorized” means. (In reality, nothing in the bill as drafted, so far as I can see, would prevent a married woman from acting as a surrogate for a gay couple. Nor would anything prevent a “marriage of convenience” if a lesbian desiring a baby could prevail upon a friend to accommodate her. But laws of this sort are rarely effective, and that isn’t really the intent. The intent is to confirm the right of the state to determine what constitutes “normal” and “proper” behavior.)


Where does the good senator propose that this intrusion into individual lives stop? What about scofflaws who go to another state for a procedure, or resort to the old turkey baster? Maybe we should require that they abort?


The senator’s wacko proposal is a perfectly logical extension of other positions taken by the numerous self-appointed guardians of American “morality” who currently rule us. These are the people who knew better than the doctors who actually examined her whether Terri Shaivo was brain-dead, and who knew better than the multiple judges who actually heard evidence what her wishes were. These are the “compassionate” government officials who know that what poor people really need isn’t food or jobs—it’s prayer and “better values.” These are the lawmakers who know what is best for my children—from the books libraries should loan them, to the internet access they should have, to the content of their biology textbooks, to the sexual orientations of their parents. These are the people determined to use the power of the state to prevent people from sinning. This half-baked bill is part and parcel of the same, single-minded focus on using government to advance fundamentalist religious beliefs.


Whatever happened to the philosophy that animated this nation’s founders—their firm belief in restraining the power of government, and separating church from state? And what has happened to the vigilance of free citizens protecting their precious liberties? What can we say about a political environment where a state senator can actually believe that this morally offensive proposal requiring people to petition the government for permission to become parents is an appropriate exercise of government authority?


Welcome to the Twilight Zone.