What it would it look like if the law imposed as many restrictions on men’s access to healthcare as it does women’s? One state lawmaker is hoping to start just such a conversation.
Conservative legislators in Kentucky, emboldened by the election of Gov. Matt Bevin (R), are moving swiftly to pass numerous new restrictions on women’s access to abortion. Bevin has already signed into law a stricter “informed consent” bill that requires a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider, while a forced ultrasound bill sailed easily through a Senate committee this week. (Jezebel notes that though women would be required to receive an ultrasound before an abortion, the bill does allow them to avert their eyes.)
One lawmaker, however, is trying to turn all of these restrictions on women back on men. Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D) has filed a new bill (HB 396) creating numerous restrictions for men to access medication for erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra or Cialis. HB 396 adds the following four steps a man would have to undergo:
- He must have two office visits on two different calendar days before the health care practitioner prescribes a drug for erectile dysfunction to him.
- He can only be prescribed the drug if he is married.
- He must produce a signed and dated letter from his current spouse providing consent for the prescription.
- He must make a sworn statement on a Bible that he will only use the prescription when having sexual relations with his current spouse.
Marzian, one of only three House members who opposed the informed consent bill, knows that her tongue-in-cheek bill likely won’t go anywhere, but she hopes it will help raise awareness among lawmakers about the way abortion laws intrude on a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body.
In an interview with WDRB Friday, she explained her thinking, “How would this body of men feel if the government was injecting into their private medical decisions?” The intent of her legislation is to “have government insert itself into the personal, private decisions of men — since we have already inserted it into our personal, private decisions of women.”
Marzian figured her conservative colleagues would find the marital restrictions appealing given their ardent “family values” positions. “Maybe it will wake some people up in this state to say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, where are they going with seven abortion bills?'”
She also plans to introduce a bill requiring potential gun buyers to obtain counseling from victims of gun violence 24 hours in advance of purchase.
Similar tactics of flipping the narrative on men have been tried in other states in retaliation to restrictions on abortion. For example, in 2012, Oklahoma state Sen. Constance Johnson (D) introduced an “every sperm is sacred” amendment to a bill defining “personhood” at conception, even before implantation. The amendment declared, “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.” The satirical bill would have outlawed oral sex, anal sex, and masturbation.