The party of “family values” in Tennessee has introduced a bill which would legally declare children born through the use of artificial insemination are not “legitimate children of the husband and wife.” The damage done by this could be far reaching for both parents and child.
For reasons that are not entirely clear, Republicans have decided that a great use of their time in office is to legislatively tear apart families who used the fairly common medical procedure known as artificial insemination to become pregnant. Tennessee State Senator Joey Hensley (R) and Tennessee State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R) introduced two bills to their respective houses both saying:
Children – As introduced, repeals statute that deems a child born to a married woman as a result of artificial insemination, with consent of the married woman’s husband, to be the legitimate child of the husband and wife. – Repeals TCA Section 68-3-306.
TCA Section 68-3-306, would would be repealed, is relatively straightforward:
A child born to a married woman as a result of artificial insemination, with consent of the married woman’s husband, is deemed to be the legitimate child of the husband and wife.
Makes sense, right? A married couple who have a child and both agree to have that child are the legitimate parents of the child. Why then would Republicans want to declare the child illegitimate?
Neither Weaver nor Hensley has commented publicly on why they’ve decided to introduce this baffling bill. One common element between the two is that both are rabid anti-choicers. A Twitter account that appears to be Hensley’s has just a single tweet:
Proud to have sponsored SB1280 to require licensure of abortion clinics in TN. JUST PASSED ON SENATE FLOOR!#lifematters
— joey hensley (@sen_joey) April 15, 2015
Weaver’s social media presence is much more active, but it too is consumed by pro-life rhetoric – and tweets promoting Trump.
On the Trump Train to Dekalb County pic.twitter.com/uAaUvDOjyF
— Terri Lynn Weaver (@TerriLynnWeaver) October 21, 2016
It’s possible that this is some new form of pro-life hysteria, an assault on any medical procedure that intervenes in what they believe is “God’s will.” Perhaps, too, it stems from their ignorance and hostility towards science and medicine. A final possibility is that, because woman have the option of using donor sperm, these Republicans are upset that the child is not biologically the father’s – even if the father is on board with it.
Why any of that is their business is a great question. There seems to be absolutely no good reason for Republicans to start labeling children “illegitimate” based on how they were conceived. Even more inexcusably, Sen. Hensley is a physician. If anybody should understand the way modern medicine is being used to help couples conceive it is him.
In any case, the “family values, small government” folks now want the government to tell children they aren’t legitimate. The hypocrisy burns.
UPDATE: It appears this heartless bill is driven by the one element we didn’t consider, but should have: Rampant homophobia. In a clue as to its inspiration, Raw Story’s David Edwards points us to the fact that Weaver was among a number of Republicans who freaked out when the lesbian mother of a child conceived by artificial insemination wanted equal rights.
Weaver and the other lawmakers asserted that the lesbian wife of the child’s mother should not be considered a “legitimate” parent under the current statute.
This tweak to the law would presumably make it more difficult for non-biological gay parents to become the legal parents of their children.
Featured image via Pixabay