States enacted a record number of anti-abortion laws in 2011 and conservative lawmakers aren’t wasting any time advancing legislation that limits women’s access to abortion services in the first few months of 2012. The bills, if enacted into law, would not only restrict women’s constitutionally-protected right to abortion, but would also significantly hamper women’s abilities to make their own decisions about reproductive health, effectively putting the government in between a woman and her doctor.
But a few state lawmakers are offering counter legislation that seeks to give men a taste of their own medicine:
EVERY SPERM HAS A RIGHT (OKLAHOMA): To poke fun a “personhood” bill that give full rights to a zygote, state Sen. Constance Johnson (D) introduced an amendment that would also declare every sperm to be sacred. “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,” her amendment stated.
CHILDREN DENIED BIRTH BECAUSE OF VASECTOMIES (GEORGIA): State Rep. Yasmin Neal (D) introduced legislation that would limit vasectomies. “Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies,” Neal explained. Her measure is in response to a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks on the grounds that a fetus can feel pain — a claim disputed by doctors.
MORE HOOPS TO CLEAR FOR VIAGRA (OHIO): In response to Ohio’s so-called Heartbeat Bill, which would prevent abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, state Sen. Nina Turner (D) will introduce a bill that would make men jump through hoops, like a psychological screening, before they could obtain Viagra and similar drugs for erectile dysfunction. “All across the country, including in Ohio, I thought since men are certainly paying great attention to women’s health that we should definitely return the favor,” Turner said.
RECTAL EXAMS FOR A VIAGRA PRESCRIPTIONS (VIRGINIA): To protest Virginia’s bill requiring women to receive an ultrasound before an abortion, state Sen. Janet Howell (D) attached an amendment to the bill that would have required men to receive a rectal exam and pass a cardiac stress test before doctors wrote them a prescription for erectile dysfunction medication. “We need some gender equity here,” Howell said. The Virginia Senate rejected her amendment, but both chambers passed the ultrasound requirement after clarifying that women would not be forced to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound.
KNOW THE SIDE EFFECTS OF VIAGRA (ILLINOIS): State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D) decided to push back against GOP attacks on women’s health by offering an amendment that would require men to watch a “horrific video” about the side effects of Viagra before the received a prescription for the drug. His bill is in response to a measure requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion. “If we are going to do this, we need to do it in a way that is applied equally,” Cassidy said.
PROTECT ALL SPERM (DELAWARE): Mocking the “personhood” measures, the town council in Wilmington, Delaware approved a satirical resolution “that asks state legislatures and U.S. Congress to enact laws that forbid men from destroying their semen.” The resolution notes that if lawmakers think a female egg has full rights, then they should say the same thing about sperm.
Missouri legislators have also introduced a bill that would limit vasectomies so that the procedures only would be performed “to avert the death of a man or avert serious risk of…physical impairment,” and that no regard would be given to the man’s desire to father children.