|Adorbs, right? Buy it here.|
|From left: Rep. Phil Jensen (R-SD), Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-GA).|
Then please stop trying to govern mine.
If you have lady bits or know someone who does, you should really become familiar with these faces. They’re out for your lady bits. No no no, not in that way – in the “restrictive legislation that they really have no business putting forth” kind of way.
I don’t care if you’re pro-choice, pro-life, pro-family, or pro-whatever: I need to talk about this because it’s been eating away at me for almost a week. In fact, I shelved a post I wrote sometime last year when we were knee-deep in our “let’s adopt!” phase. It contained a rather inflammatory sentence that basically said, despite my years of being pro-choice/pro-family, every abortion is a missed adoption opportunity. I know – I know – that’s why I never posted it here. Too inflammatory even for me and I didn’t want to deal with the aftermath in the comments. So… yeah, don’t kill me on that one.
Here’s the thing: infertility patients need to pay attention to healthcare legislation, particularly anti-abortion legislation. Anti-abortion legislation, in a cruel twist of fate, can pose a serious threat to our access to care. Here we are, trying our damndest to have our own children, and yet (I know how ironic this sounds) we need to be vigilant about others’ rights and access to terminate their own pregnancies.
Case in point: Iowa’s Personhood Law (HF 153). This lovely little gem seeks to define that life begins at conception thus rendering abortion illegal in the state of Iowa. Why does this matter to infertility patients? Oh, you were able to fertilize all 8 of your eggs for your IVF cycle? Congrats! Oh, some of them weren’t so high grade and aren’t worth saving? Tough cookies, it’s now illegal to dispose of them. I’ve seen so many of your beautiful blasties out there and it’s kind of awesome (in the truest sense of the word) to know that those little blasties are your future children – but calling it murder to get rid of them? Come on. And yet amazingly, HF 153 actually passed an Iowa House subcomittee. What boggles the mind: the bill was authored by Rep. Kim Pearson (R-IA). Kim: you’ve got lady bits. Use your head, woman! Even the ASRM and SART said enough was enough, and issued a public letter in opposition of the bill to Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen.
[Do you live in Iowa? Does this piss you off? Please contact your representatives and tell them why this matters to you as their constituents. You can search for your Iowa legislators here online for their full contact info.]
There’s a reason to speak up, contact your legislators, and blog about it: because it works. Look at South Dakota (fig 1). Their House Bill 1171, introduced by Rep. Phil Jensen (R) sought to redefine justifiable homicide:
Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is. (Source.)
In a nutshell, it would create legal precedent for someone to kill abortion clinic workers. Let’s broaden this a bit: remember those blasties I mentioned a few paragraphs up? Let’s say those low-grade blasties are discarded. According to HB 1171, it would be justifiable homicide to take out the offending embryologist who discarded them. Thankfully, the public outcry, both from South Dakotans and the blogosphere, was large enough that the language was changed and ultimately, South Dakota realized that maybe this whole thing didn’t need to be brought to the table at all.
But we still have a big fight ahead of us, most notably, the most recent vote by the House to defund Planned Parenthood, spearheaded by New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith (fig 2). This is much more than just about abortion rights: now we’re just talking about restricting access to basic reproductive care. Planned Parenthood does a lot more than abortions: they provide routine pap smears, access to birth control and emergency contraception, and routine care for STIs. By taking away these services, these women now have an increased risk of infertility because they won’t be able to access the reproductive care they need.
And as many of you know, sometimes the decision to terminate a pregnancy is beyond our control. Enter my new hero, California Rep. Jackie Speier, who had the chuzpah to remind the House of this staggering reality late last week:
“The gentleman from New Jersey can kindly kiss my ass.”
[Don't know how your Representative voted? You can check here online to see whether or not they voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Then take the time to thank those that who supported PP or speak your mind to those who did vote to defund PP.]
Have you been angered by the craptastic media coverage of infertility, IVF, donor gametes, and celebrity infertiles? You ever notice how the media likes to play the victim blame game? With all of this recent legislation, anyone else getting that vibe that there’s this cultural misogyny at work here (like last week’s Nir Rosen and Debbie Schlussel’s *disgusting* rants blaming CBS correspondent Lara Logan for her own sexual assualt in Egypt)?
What the holy hell is everyone’s problem with women just, ya know, living their own lives and having some say in what we choose to do with our bodies?
This is why we, as an infertility community, need to care about anti-abortion legislation, regardless of our own personal views. This is why we need to act, to speak up, to speak out, tell our neighbors, our friends, our families and most importantly: the people who govern, as most of them do not have uteruses (uterii?), but have an awful lot to say about what goes on in them.
Because if we don’t, then we might just end up with legislation that seeks to investigate all miscarraiges, cuz yanno, to see if they were induced. Because if they were, it would be a criminal offense.
How I wish I were making this up. (I’ve been trying to find a less inflammatory post about it, but this one at Daily Kos hits all of the important points). Allow me to introduce you to Georgia Rep. Bobby Franklin (fig. 3) who is pushing for the following legislation:
“…any time a miscarriage occurs, whether in a hospital or without medical assistance, it must be reported and a fetal death certificate issued. If the cause of death is unknown, it must be investigated… Hospitals are required to keep records of anyone who has a spontaneous abortion and report it.” (Source.)
This is the last straw. I had to write about it here because, having been invested in the stories of so many of you who have experienced a miscarriage, I just about went apoplectic when I read this on a friend’s FB page. Rep. Franklin’s proposed legislation would treat you like a criminal just for having miscarried. Seriously? Is this what we have come to as a nation?
We have got to wake up, start paying attention, starting making those calls and writing those letters. We need to be informed and to inform others. We have got to start fighting back as a unified community of women or we are going to get trampled by the cultural norming of misogyny in America.
UPDATE: More thoughts in my follow-up post – The War on Women Has Got to Stop.