Maine does not use the pillory or the stocks to shame people for perceived sin, but that isn’t stopping some lawmakers from trying to do the same thing with the insurance code.

L.D. 943, sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Garrett Mason, has the innocuous title “An Act to Provide Access to Infertility Treatment,” but there is nothing innocent about the bill. If it became law, it would indeed require insurance companies to help pay for infertility treatment, but only for people who live a lifestyle approved by its author.

Only married women who wanted to be pregnant would be eligible for the new benefit, and nobody who was infertile as a result of a sexually transmitted disease could be covered. If made law, the bill would call on government to sit in judgment on people’s personal lives, and determine who was morally worthy of a certain kind of medical care and who was not.

This is not just a bad bill — it’s a terrible bill. It should either be radically amended or killed outright.

It may be news to some people, but sex between consenting adults outside the confines of marriage is not a crime. People are free to make their own choices. They are even free to choose to have children without being married.

Everyone has the right to an opinion on whether that’s a good idea, but no one has the right to tell those families how they should live their lives. Using the law to punish unmarried women, taking a benefit away from them that is available to others, is wrong.

It’s also an enforcement nightmare. How long do couples have to be married before they are eligible for the treatment? If they get divorced before the child is born, do they have to give the money back? Can they be sued? What about widows – are they married or not?

The other restriction is even more offensive. It would punish women — and only women — for contracting an STD, as if only the woman could have played a role in its transmission. Even if a woman were infected by a rapist or by a partner who lied about an affair, Mason’s bill would deem her unworthy of this kind of medical treatment. How is that moral?

One of the most confusing aspects of this debate is the way in which conservatives, who typically say that they want government to be out of their lives when it comes to taxes or guns, see no problem using the awesome power of the state to interfere in the most personal aspects of a woman’s life.

Last week, another bad bill was killed by bad publicity. Sen. David Burns, R-Whiting, withdrew his “religious liberty” bill, another deceptively named piece of legislation that would allow business owners to claim a religious justification for discrimination that would otherwise be illegal. Mason, who was a co-sponsor of that bill, should withdraw L.D. 943 as well.

Maine does not need laws to reward and punish families for making decisions that are nobody’s business but their own.

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