Women: Soon to be Officially Defined by Their Babymaking Abilities?

One of Big Brass Blog’s brilliant contributors, Linnet from Looking at the Stars, posted this scary little bit of information yesterday:
According to the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act of 2005 (Senate Bill 51 and House Bill 356, if you're curious), it's the ova and the uterus and nothing else. The Act, which has been criticized for its possible effects on abortion law, has been referred to committee in both the House and the Senate. It contains this excellent definition:

WOMAN- The term `woman' means a female human being who is capable of becoming pregnant, whether or not she has reached the age of majority.

This definition of 'woman' was considered appropriate by both House and Senate. There are several interesting implications to this:

A. A female human being who is not capable of becoming pregnant does not qualify as a woman under this definition.

B. This definition implies that a woman is not, as any dictionary will tell you, an 'adult female human.' A thirteen-year-old female child is a woman if she has reached puberty. Fertility is the sole measure of womanhood, not maturity and the capacity to make one's own decisions.

C. This definition could be used in other laws if this bill is passed and signed.

All of this reminds me of the definition of 'woman' in Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale, wherein infertile women were considered Unwomen.
As Linnet points out, the possibility that such a narrowly construed definition of “woman” could be used in other legislation, which may not be strictly limited to pregnancy issues (as is the above-cited legislation), is chilling. It’s also incredibly offensive to women who are childless by choice, or infertile by proxy if their partners are incapable of making them pregnant.

The bill itself is ridiculous. That it contains language reducing women to breeding machines by legal definition is unconscionable.

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