Silicon Valley used to be California’s hotbed of innovation.
Today the most radical new inventions come from Sacramento.
The state Legislature is even pioneering a novel kind of socialism: bio-socialism.
The old, industrial socialism meant asserting control over the means of production.
Biological socialism is when government manages the means of reproduction.
Enter SB 729, a bill that redefines fertility and infertility in the Golden State.
Until now, infertility was a medical condition.
State Sen. Caroline Menjivar’s legislation makes it a “status” that applies to same-sex couples and singles.
And the law provides a remedy.
SB 729 requires that employer-provided insurance plans cover fertility treatments for people who could, in fact, conceive children if they tried to do it the only way that naturally leads to reproduction.
Families used to begin with a mother and a father.
In the brave new world of our blue states, they can begin with legislative fiat and an insurance company.
California’s proposed law would make employers, and ultimately everyone else, financially responsible for in-vitro fertilization treatments and surrogacy options for same-sex couples and single people.
Biological socialism, like the old-fashioned kind, aims to equalize conditions — in this case, the conditions that apply to natural families and artificially commissioned ones.
The Washington Free Beacon quotes the website of Men Having Babies, an advocacy group championing the legislation in California and similar efforts in New York, New Jersey, Maine and elsewhere: “The anguish and yearning that same sex couples and singles feel due to their inability to reproduce without medical intervention is equal to the anguish of heterosexual couples who suffer from ‘medical infertility.’”
The same reasoning, reductio ad absurdum or not, applies to single people.
They too might feel anguish over not having biological offspring due to circumstances outside their control — not medical but social circumstances.
A right to reproduce, like a right to a job or to housing or to medical treatment, must be universal if equality is the goal.
To be sure, employers and insurers worry about the price of bills like SB 729.
IVF and surrogacy are expensive procedures, which is why Menjivar wants to socialize their costs.
The effect will not only be to make these treatments available to people who otherwise couldn’t afford them but, more broadly, to subsidize them for same-sex couples and singles who already can pay for them.
Bio-socialism is a pro-family policy that mirrors the pro-natal policies favored by Republicans like Mitt Romney.
The difference is that progressives have a broader definition of family — and hence more potential clients and voters.
Nothing prevents Democrats from outbidding Republicans on any family-policy proposal.
If Republicans want to pay people to have children, Democrats will pay more money to more kinds of people.
The GOP can’t compete unless it scraps its social conservatism along with its fiscal conservatism.
The old conservative model relied on self-responsibility — not a mythical every-man-for-himself individualism but a high degree of economic self-responsibility at every level of society.
Such self-responsibility among families and communities encouraged an ethic of self-government: engagement in local affairs (of the religious and social kinds, as well as in local government) and a cherished independence from centralized power and planning.
This didn’t mean America had a laissez-faire economy. But it did mean that socialist efforts always met resistance and not just from the rich.
The new biological socialism doesn’t just argue that economic conditions are unfair.
It argues that nature itself is discriminatory and must be corrected.
That requires comprehensive systems of control, including price controls for fertility.
While employers and religious conservatives have obvious economic and moral objections to legislation like SB 729, there’s a fundamental political problem as well.
If more and more families over time owe their existence to such laws, the very idea of family will cease to be natural or a matter of immemorial custom.
The most basic social unit of self-responsibility in American life, the unit that forms individual character itself, will be subordinated to political collective responsibility.
It will be the government that forms society, not the other way around.
When insurance compensates for misfortune, that’s one thing.
But when the misfortune is not truly out of one’s control — when biologically fertile people do not engage in procreative sex — insurance mandates become an instrument of social engineering, for redistributing money and responsibility alike.
A self-governing people arises from self-governing institutions, above all the family.
And families arise from fertility.
If the California legislature replaces the biological laws of fertility with its own political preferences, it will remove the family from the realm of custom and nature, which no one controls, and socialize the very building block of society.
Karl Marx didn’t think big enough.
Why expropriate anything else when you can seize the factories that make men and women?
Daniel McCarthy is the editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Review.