Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hoosier Paternalistic Pinkwasher?

I really do want to be a kind and tolerant person. But writing this blog is like compiling a list of places I never want to go. Today's non-destination: Indiana. (Sorry, SL.)

So much here to get pissed off about! Let's look at the synopsis of the proposed change to  Indiana's law governing abortions, and take it one clause at a time, mmkay?
Sex selection and genetic abnormality abortion ban. Prohibits a person from performing an abortion if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion because of: (1) the sex of the fetus; or (2) a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or a genetic abnormality. Makes it a Class C felony if a person knowingly or intentionally commits a sex-selective abortion or an abortion conducted because of a diagnosis of Down syndrome or other genetic abnormality. Provides for civil relief.
Joining their progressive pals in North Dakota, Indiana's Senate took up a bill to ban sex-selective abortions this week. Were you worried about Chinese-style gender imbalance in the midwest? Well, don't. In 2006, there were 45,679 Hoosier boy babies and 43,725 Hoosier girl babies born - or exactly the ratio scientists tell us occurs in nature.

Were you worried that craven legislators were trying to peel off supporters of women's rights by raising the spectre of the million baby girls aborted in Asia every year? Yeah, worry.

Even more troubling is the ban on abortions where the fetus is found to have Down Syndrome or some other genetic abnormality, defined as:
Any disease, defect, or disorder that is genetically inherited. The term includes the following:
(1) A physical disability.
(2) A mental disability or retardation.
(3) A physical disfigurement.
(4) Scoliosis.
(5) Dwarfism.
(6) Down syndrome.
(7) Albinism.
(8) Amelia.
(9) A physical or mental abnormality or disease.
Forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term when she will give birth to a child who is profoundly disabled shows a breathtaking lack of compassion. So does equating minor defects such as albinism or cleft palate with major deformities which will cause a baby's death shortly after birth. That's a lot of chutzpah from a legislature that cut $47.6 million from its Family and Social Services Administration budget in 2012!

For all practical purposes, the statute is unenforceable (and probably illegal) - if you say you are terminating a pregnancy because it interferes with your trip to Cancun, rather than because your fetus has a crippling genetic disorder, who can prove otherwise? And how can a doctor have guilty intent based on his patient's state of mind? But, as written it leads to the perverse result that a woman may choose to abort a healthy fetus for any reason at all, but will be forced to carry a sick child to term. It also means that the less conversation she has with her doctor, the better; the doctor can only be prosecuted if she "knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed" with Down syndrome or another genetic abnormality. Because nothing promotes a healthy doctor-patient relationship like the threat of criminal prosecution!

A majority of Indiana's citizens support abortion rights in most circumstances, so I don't think a law that is so patently unconstitutional will pass. But the statute is worth noting because it's the first I've seen to criminalize abortion in the case of a genetic defect. While most people have sympathy for a woman seeking to end a pregnancy in the case of serious fetal abnormality, these legislators liken it to a hate crime. Let's hope this is not part of a trend.

Today's $5 is for Planned Parenthood of Indiana, who will not be regulated, intimidated or starved out of it's mission to care for women.


  1. i forgive you...but i assure that my friends & family currently living in indiana are working toward change!

  2. (also, ignore my blog...i obviously don't keep up with it anymore)