If you never thought we’d get to the point in Alabama politics where within a year’s time there would be legislation offered that would force women to bear a child produced as a result of a rape or incest and men over the age of 50 or who have fathered three biological children to get a vasectomy, we have arrived.
Theoretically, we’re all aware of the law passed last year banning abortions — even in the case of rape or incest. It was signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey, promptly blocked in court and now must attempt to wend its way through the Justice system.
Adding to the reproductive fun, State Rep. Rolanda Hollis has now introduced a bill mandating that any men over the age of 50 or who has three biological children be snipped.
That’s right, wake up Grandpa and let’s get him down to the urologist. I know he’s 95, but the law’s the law. He could still be packing heat!
I’m still trying to figure out which sounds better: “Alabama — Home of Forced Sterilization,” or “Alabama — The Incest State.” Both would look good on a coin or flag.
Of course, all of this is rather ludicrous. Hollis is just trying to make a point with her bill — and she’s done a pretty good job of it, frankly, as it has gotten nationwide attention. Just the other day U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, got his beard all bristled up about it, tweeting, “Yikes. A government big enough to give you everything is big enough to take everything … Literally!”
I get the feeling Ted is conflating a vasectomy with castration, which is certainly likely for a Texan, as castrating bulls is a popular event in the Lone Star State. If this bill does become law, just be sure Ted Cruz isn’t your doctor.
Cruz, naturally, was publicly abused for what many saw as an obvious double standard of outrage over forced sterilization versus his lack of concern about a woman being forced to carry Uncle Jimbob’s baby. He was too busy trying to make “big government” points instead of paying attention to what he was actually saying. Frankly, I’m not sure anyone in Washington on either side of the aisle has room to lecture us about big government either, but I digress.
Rep. Hollis’s bill was obviously submitted more as a means to prod her Republican counterparts than as an actual piece of legislation. She had to know it had one chance in a million — coincidentally about the same as a sperm does of reaching an egg — of it making it through a male-dominated Legislature. You want to see bipartisanship, start talking about castrating, um, I mean sterilizing most of the men on Goat Hill and you’ll see consensus in a hurry.
I’m dubious that even if she could get the bill passed that Rep. Hollis really wants to see all her male friends and relatives forced to see the sperm barber. The idea is far more funny than practical.
I suppose it could create a few new jobs for people to go around checking for vasectomy scars, but that’s not likely to be a very popular job. And it would make the colonoscopy at 50 seem tame by comparison.
But I’d also imagine there would be tremendous resistance. Picture bumper stickers saying, “You can cut my vas deferens out of my cold, dead ….” Well, I think you get the gist.
When Alabama’s abortion bill was signed into law last year, everyone knew its ultimate goal was mostly about trying to force the U.S. Supreme Court to eventually take another pass at Roe v. Wade, the case that made abortion legal in this country. Including no exceptions for rape or incest no doubt made the law even more controversial and possibly even more likely to be taken up by the Supreme Court.
Maybe Rep. Hollis’s bill has offered at least a glimpse into the psyche of “the other side” in the abortion debate. The bill’s own outrageousness means it will never actually happen, but it’s probably gotten at least a few people who might otherwise give little thought to the situations women can find themselves in when considering an abortion thinking about the unpleasantness of the government having a hand in policing their reproductive system.
That’s not to say I’m an advocate of abortion. There are deep philosophical and ethical issues that go way beyond “never” or “my body, my choice.” I don’t know if we’ll ever come to any consensus on those issues, but the stridency of both Alabama’s abortion law and Hollis’s sterilization bill serve as a foil for the abortion debate as a whole.
I’m sure the second many people heard about Rep. Hollis’s bill, a whole litany of situations began circling their minds. What if a 50-year-old guy marries a younger woman — they can’t have babies? What about my grandpa — he would need a vasectomy? What about people who are deathly afraid of sharp objects near their genitalia who then have a heart attack and die?
In a way it reflects the myriad examples cited by abortion advocates when arguing for the protection of Roe v. Wade. What if it’s a very young girl with no one to help her? What if the child would have a horrible disease? What if the mother was raped by a family member? What if it leads to more “back alley” abortions that kill young women?
I would hate to have to be the one to make the decision. People say “murder is murder,” but we routinely consider mitigating circumstances in court. Not every murderer is sent to death row. I like to think I have a logical answer to the abortion debate, but I’m sure there would be circumstances that would challenge any rules I might make.
And even though I feel certain about my stance on forced vasectomies, a short drive down Government Street would probably have me thinking, “that idiot shouldn’t reproduce.” The next thing you know, the government’s back in someone’s pants.
Rep. Hollis’s bill may be nuts, but it’s also food for thought about an issue we often react to more than think about.
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