In case you thought red states couldn’t get their hands any deeper into women’s vaginas, think again.
You see, last week the Kansas legislature turned into a damn circus – if circuses included public sonograms, that is. On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, state senator Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook introduced a bill that would ban surrogacy in the state and had two women get sonograms in front of her fellow legislators.
I literally have no idea what conservatives in Kansas want me to do. They’re really going out of their way to eliminate access to abortion, and now they don’t want me to get pregnant on purpose to make some other person or people happy? What is their deal?
On Monday the Public Health and Welfare Committee heard testimony, so now we do know what their deal actually is. And surprise! It’s control over a woman’s body.
The language that was used was strikingly similar to some of the language we often hear from anti-choice activists. Women are such delicate flowers that we can’t have them making decisions about what they do with their bodies.
“Surrogacy undermines the dignity of women, children and human reproduction,” said Jennifer Lahl, a pediatric nurse who is now president of the California-based Center for Bioethics and Culture. “Consider deeply what is at stake for the dignity of women and what is in truly the best interest of the children.”
You see? They’re just worried about women and children! It undermines their dignity. Never mind that treating someone with dignity means letting them make their own choices. Never mind that parents who have to go to such great effort to have a child will probably actually want that child. Everyone knows that if you say something enough times it automatically becomes true.
The bill had its detractors, too. Testimony was given by a couple called Andrew and Kelsey Marske. They brought their 6-week-old twins, who happened to be born via surrogate. Kelsey was born with only a partial uterus. An adoption attorney even testified, saying that there are, indeed, protections in place for women acting as surrogates.
Martin Bauer, a Wichita attorney who’s specialized in adoptions for 30 years, said Kansas law already protects women serving as surrogates from being exploited. He said adoption laws limit couples to reimbursing a birth mother for her expenses, and in the 1990s, the attorney general issued a legal opinion that the same restrictions apply to surrogacy.
Perhaps if this hearing were geared toward getting those protections in the Kansas statutes, it wouldn’t be a waste of taxpayer money. But it’s not about that. It’s just another way for conservatives to keep women from determining what they do with their lives and fertility. If it weren’t, then we’d see the use of a scalpel, not a wrecking ball. There are, apparently, only two ways to be properly pregnant: first, in the confines of marriage where it is 100 percent, all the time a happy occurrence, and if it’s not then you’re an evil person; or, second, as punishment for being a whore. And those people who desperately want a child of their own? Tough.
Since this is Kansas, a legislative hearing wouldn’t be complete without someone saying something completely off-the-wall bananas. In this case, it was Pilcher-Cook, the sponsor of this bill. She said that surrogacy is “creating a child that you know is purposely not going to have either a biological mother, biological father or both.”
Wow. A person with no biological mother or father. Either Pilcher-Cook is privy to some pretty cutting edge science, or she’s just spouting nonsense. I’m going with spouting nonsense.
Luckily, the Kansas GOP doesn’t seem to be in lockstep on this issue. The state senate president and vice president both came out against the measure. The senate president even said, “Criminalizing surrogate mothers is not a priority of this Legislature.”
Oooooooo government bureaucracy burn!
In the end, this is just another assault on the reproductive rights of the women of Kansas. It’s another opportunity for the state to insert itself into the private decisions of its citizens and interfere with their happiness. I can’t say I’m not surprised.
Photo Credit: Agnes Yves via Flickr