Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tinfoil Hat? Try this White Bonnet on for Size...

This boggles the mind. The Arizona House of Representatives yesterday introduced legislation to criminalize women selling their eggs. Women selling their eggs. Illegal. This is the same body that, in the past couple of weeks, has floated laws prohibiting minors from obtaining prescriptions (read: birth control) without parental consent, and prohibiting cities and counties from providing their employees with health insurance plans that cover abortion. This newest bit of lunacy doesn't advance parallel penalties against men who sell their sperm, ostensibly because the bill seeks to address the "health risks" egg sales carry. I highlight the word "sales" there because there is no provision against egg donation. Just against making a profit from it.

Do I really have to slap the cover of The Handmaid's Tale up here to make the point crystal clear? A couple of weeks ago, during the Blam Blam Cheney uproar, Jon Stewart noted on The Daily Show that "you couldn't make this stuff up. The sad part is that we don't have to." Okay, all together now: This bill is not about protecting women's health any more than the prescription bill is about protecting teenagers from being prescribed phen-fen by overzealous doctors. It is about exerting control over women's lives via their bodies, in a twisted manifestation of biblical injunctions about the absolute authority of men over their wives and daughters.

Ever write something and say to yourself, "I can't believe I just typed that shit?" Yeah. That. The slow but steady erosion of women's control over their own bodies is now reaching into areas I never, in my worst paranoid nightmares, suspected it would. Where does any male legislator find the sheer hubris to decide it's a good idea to tell women they can give away as many eggs as they want, but selling them is not allowed? Is it the spawn of a late-night drinking game under the Capitol rotunda in Phoenix, the boys sitting around the table trying to one-up each other with outlandish bills? Where does it lead? Better yet, where does it end?

I don't understand why we--collective We--have allowed things to go this far, to allow this encroachment of one particular fundamentalist flavor to crowd out so many others. Why are more women not up in arms? Can so many of us truly feel that safe, that insulated, that we can believe none of this will really ever affect us? It's a roll of the dice every time we hop in the sack with a guy, every time we hedge our bets and walk alone through the parking garage at night. Ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine percent of the time we'll be okay. That one percent that walks up swiftly and silently behind while we're fiddling with the condom wrapper or wondering if we remembered to take the pill today or digging the car keys out? That one percent can be a motherfucker in the current climate.

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