Our country's efforts to control citizens' reproductive choices have reached absurdity. Even politicians themselves are getting fed up: In response to the ridiculous reproductive laws holding up the South Carolina General Assembly's meetings, Representative Mia McLeod proposed a bill to limit the attainment of medication for erectile dysfunction. The facetious law requires that partners confirm the patient has suffered from ED before he obtains medication, that he undergoes a cardiac stress test and counseling, and that he waits 24 hours to consider the risks.
Sound familiar? That's probably because this bill is modeled after countless proposals that have popped up across the country in recent years in an attempt to bring the country back to the pre-Roe v. Wade era. Just 43 years ago, women could not legally obtain abortions in every state, and the sentiment that allowed states to outlaw abortions is still alive and well. Nearly one third of Americans believe abortion should be illegal during the first three months of pregnancy, according to a Gallup poll, and nearly two thirds believe it should be illegal during the latter half of the first six months. (Most states allow abortions within the first six months.)
When public opinion and government efforts get this depressing, we can at least find solace by laughing at the absurdity of it all, as McLeod illustrates. Of course, when we actually stop to consider what these laws have accomplished or could accomplish if passed, it's difficult to laugh. Whether you're looking to laugh or cry or engage in a twisted combination of both, here are five of the most absurd reproductive laws state governments have ever considered.
If you lived in North Dakota between 2013 and July of this year and found out you were pregnant six weeks after your last period (which would be understandable, especially if your periods are irregular), your only hope was traveling to another state. Luckily, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law this summer, saying it violated the precedent set by the Supreme Court in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which ruled that abortion should be legal for 24 weeks into pregnancy.
It gets worse: In Louisiana, Texas, and Wisconsin, medical professionals are required to describe fetuses to try to guilt would-be parents about — or, according to lawmakers' claims, inform them of — what they're getting themselves into. According to Carolyn Jones, who was forced by Texas law to either listen to her fetus's heartbeat or watch a sonogram in addition to hearing a description, the obligation to drag out an abortion can be devastating. "I don’t want to hear a description of the life I’m about to end," she recalls saying in the sonography room to no avail.
As if we hadn't already taken the fetuses-are-humans philosophy to the extreme, Ohio lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that requires patients to sign off on the burial or cremation of their aborted or miscarried fetuses. This proposal comes after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s investigation into Planned Parenthood, which did not confirm his suspicions that they were selling parts of fetuses. “Whether they are selling body parts or simply tossing them into landfills doesn’t matter to me anymore,” State Representative Kyle Koehler told WVXU. In case you're not already banging your head against your desk, the healthcare facilities that take care of the body's disposal are allowed to charge the parents for the fetus's forced disposal. I kid you not.
In Alabama, if a pregnant teenager appeals to a judge to get an abortion without parental consent, the judge can then make sure the unborn fetus has the right to representation by appointing a lawyer dedicated to preserving its "life." Assistant Attorney General William G. Parker told the Associated Press that the law was enacted in 2014 to make sure the abortion would be in the pregnant teen's best interest — as if a complete stranger could possibly know that.
The state's sex ed classes must tell seventh graders that abortion is a leading cause of preterm births, which it in fact is not, according to Sex Etc. Not unrelated is this: North Carolina schools are also required to tell students that “a mutually faithful monogamous heterosexual relationship in the context of marriage is the best lifelong means of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.”
No, you are not reading The Onion. These are all real. The war on our reproductive rights is real, and we could very well be in danger of losing the rights we haven't lost already. So, this is definitely an issue to pay attention to in the upcoming election if you want to gain freedom over your reproductive choices and preserve the limited bodily autonomy you have left.