In response to the patriarchal treatment of our bodies as property, criminal defense attorney Ms. Karen Suzanne Wilkes has drafted sample legislation based upon licensing & property laws, demanding that men pay for “licensing, use and maintenance of our bodies & the offspring we create.”
Ms. Wilkes’ sample legislation reads:
It shall be unlawful (a felony, punishable by 10 years imprisonment) for any man to impregnate a woman without first obtaining and filing with the clerk of court a sworn affidavit signed by said woman, and signed by 2 witnesses, giving her express consent to be impregnated by that man. In addition, at the time of filing said affidavit, the man shall post a cash bond with the court in an amount equal to 20% of the man’s gross income for the next 18 years, thereby covering the cost of child support in the event a child is born as a result of the man’s act in impregnating the woman. The cash bond will also include an additional amount to cover the cost of all prenatal care & the cost of delivering the baby.
This legislation fairly shares both the burden of pregnancy and the burden of birth control and would put a swift stop to criminalizing abortion and miscarriage, as well as ceasing efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and make birth control harder to get and more expensive.
The Constitution protects property, and aren’t our bodies our property? I posited this thought to Ms. Wilkes, and she agreed, “Property is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution and cannot be taken or infringed by the State without due process of law. I think it’s fair to say that the government is infringing on a woman’s property (her body) without due process of law by forcing her to undergo (AND PAY FOR) unwanted medical procedures … not mention forcing her to carry a child & give birth against her will.”
Does it seem outrageous? Ms. Wilkes notes, “As a criminal defense lawyer and defender of freedom, liberty, the Constitution and human rights, I’m no fan of criminalizing personal activities…. However, I sure would like to counter these oppressive anti-women laws with one that puts the onus on men, just as the article suggests.”
Ms. Wilkes is referencing an article written this morning by fellow PoliticusUSA writer Hrafnkell Haraldsson. He wrote, “It is not a big step from suddenly having to treat your dog like an equal to surreal the comments of Republican State Rep. Alan Dick that women should be required to have a permission slip from the sperm’s owner before they can abort the results of its implantation. Speaking of a piece of Alaska legislation Rep. Dick (what an appropriate name) said, ‘If I thought that the man’s signature was required… required, in order for a woman to have an abortion, I’d have a little more peace about it.'”
How is this proposed legislation any more outrageous than punishing a woman for not wanting to get pregnant, getting pregnant via rape or incest, or for getting pregnant when she wasn’t ready to have a baby? It’s not. The only reason it may appear outrageous is because it inserts the government over a man’s sperm; it regulates the sperm just as they are regulating the uterus.
They are also inserting the government up our vaginal canals – literally, with state mandated transvaginal ultrasounds. They have hence already lost any government intrusion argument they might make in defense of their right over their own sperm and actions of their penis.
And I particularly like the bit about the 20% of wages for child support, because it demonstrates how smart people can use the war on women to turn the argument around and address an issue that has long needed addressing.
What can you do? Well, for starters, you can submit this suggested legislation to your state representatives. And remember, the Right is waging its war on women on the state level even more than the federal level, after discovering that it’s much harder to get their way on the federal level. You can use this knowledge to fight back on a state level.
You can send this to your state representatives and write letters to the editor in favor of it.
This is how you reframe the debate around the Constitutionality of using government to infringe upon our bodies/property. And hey, if they go for it, millions of children will finally be financially provided for by the owner of the sperm that created them and men will be forced to take responsibility for birth control.
Never just fight back against a bad argument; always reframe it by asking for something more — something that puts the burden on the other party to defend the legal premise of their own argument with something at stake for them.
It’s really the free market at work if you think about it. If we are property to be regulated and used because we can make a baby, then so is sperm. Make them pay equally for their belief and see how well that goes over.
Image: copyright 2012 @AzureGhost
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.