Lawmakers Propose New Limits on Vasectomies and Viagra in Protest over Anti-Abortion Legislation

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People gather at the Oklahoma state Capitol on Feb. 28, 2012 to protest Oklahoma Senate’s passage of a bill that grants personhood rights to fertilized eggs. Source: Katie Fretland, “Group Opposed to Oklahoma ‘Personhood’ Bills to Rally in Defense of Reproductive Rights,” www.therepublic.com, Feb. 28, 2012. Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki.

In response to growing legislative efforts to curb women’s access to abortion services and birth control, some politicians have proposed bills that would make it tougher for men to get Viagra and vasectomies.

Nina Turner (D-OH) introduced Senate Bill 307, which would require men seeking a Viagra prescription to be assessed by a sex therapist, undergo a cardiac stress test to make sure they can withstand sexual activity, and obtain a notarized affidavit from a sex partner who has witnessed their problems with erectile dysfunction. Turner said in an interview with the Plain Dealer, “The men in our lives, including members of the General Assembly, generously devote time to fundamental female reproductive issues. The least we can do is return the favor.”

John Willke, a former president of National Right to Life who has worked as an obstetrician, said anti-abortion legislation “has nothing to do with women’s rights, it has everything to do with fetal rights.”

In Oklahoma, Sen. Constance Johnson (D-OH), proposed the following amendment to a bill that defined human life as starting at the point of conception: “However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.” Johnson writes in The Guardian, “My amendment seeks to draw attention to the absurdity, duplicity and lack of balance inherent in the policies of this state in regard to women.”

Rep. Harold Dutton (D-TX) proposed a few amendments to a Texas bill that would require women to get invasive sonograms prior to an abortion. He suggested that in cases in which the mother decides against an abortion because of the sonogram, the state will pay for the child’s health care until age 18 as well as the child’s college tuition. His colleague Rep. Marisa Marquez (D-TX) also suggested that pregnant woman forced to undergo a sonogram should be able to obtain a court order that requires the father to get a vasectomy.

Similar legislation includes an amendment to an ultrasound bill in Illinois that would require men to watch a video about Viagra side effects; a bill in Virginia to require rectal exams and cardiac stress tests for men seeking Viagra; a resolution passed by Wilmington, Delaware’s City Council to grant personhood rights to both eggs and sperm; and bills in both Georgia and Missouri to restrict vasectomies for men.

These acts follow such measures as the Ohio House passing a bill that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected and the state of Virginia signing a bill into law that requires women to undergo an ultrasound before getting an abortion.

State legislation to limit access to abortion reached a high in 2011, according to the Guttmacher Institute. It reports that states enacted 80 abortion restrictions in 2011, which is “more than double the previous record of 34 abortion restriction enacted in 2005—and more than triple the 23 enacted in 2010.”


Sources:

“How About Requiring Rectal Exams for Viagra Prescriptions?,” blogs.wsj.com, Mar. 14, 2012

“States Enact Record Number of Abortion Restrictions in First Half of 2011,” www.guttmacher.org, July 13, 2011

Constance Johnson, “About My ‘Spilled Semen’ Amendment to Oklahoma’s Personhood Bill,” www.guardian.co.uk, Feb. 9, 2012

Ashley Portero, “Responding to Anti-Abortion Bills, Democrats Offer Satirical Measures Regulating Men’s Sexuality,” www.ibtimes.com, Mar. 12, 2012

Darrel Rowland, “Ohio Voters Evenly Split on ‘Heartbeat Bill,'” www.dispatch.com, Jan. 19, 2011

Diane Suchetka, “Ohio Sen. Nina Turner Joins Women across Country Striking Back, Introducing Bills to Regulate Sex Lives of Men,” Plain Dealer, www.blog.cleveland.com, Mar. 9, 2012