Health

How Lawmakers Use Satirical Bills To Troll Anti-Abortion Legislation

CREDIT: AP Photo, Sue Ogrocki

Oklahoma state Sen. Constance Johnson (D-Oklahoma City) speaks at a news conference in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, May 8, 2012.

As an increasing number of conservative lawmakers attempt to insert politics into women’s personal reproductive choices, more and more of their female peers are fighting back with satirical legislation.

The latest came last week, when a Kentucky lawmaker introduced a new bill that would regulate access to erectile dysfunction drugs using restrictions similar to what many women currently face when trying to get an abortion in the state. Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D) penned the bill to emphasize the unnecessary hoops women in her state (and others) have to jump through to make a private decision about their body. And she certainly wasn’t the first to do so. Over the past five years, liberal women lawmakers have crafted a variety of tongue-in-cheek bills to respond to their GOP counterparts’ anti-abortion legislation. None of the bills made it far — but that wasn’t their intention. Here’s a few of the highlights:

Defining masturbation as an act violence against the unborn

Oklahoma State Sen. Constance Johnson (D) submitted an amendment to an Oklahoma Personhood bill in 2012 in which: “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 said she tacked on this amendment to express her frustration in the state’s interest in policing women’s eggs while ignoring male involvement in conception.

Banning vasectomies

In response to a Georgia bill that would incriminate women who had an abortion 20 weeks into a pregnancy, State Rep. Yasmin Neal (D) filed a bill in 2012 outright banning vasectomies using similar language.

“It is patently unfair that men avoid the rewards of unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly,” the bill read. Neal stressed that her legislation was pure satire, and said that “even if it were proposed as a serious issue, it’s still not my place as a woman to tell a man what to do with his body.”

Imposing mandatory waiting periods and sex therapy for Viagra users

Last year, South Carolina Rep. Mia McLeod (D) introduced a bill similar to Kentucky’s Marzian, adding strict regulation to men’s access to erectile dysfunction drugs. In her bill, men would have to obtain a “notarized affidavit in which at least one of the patient’s sexual partners affirms that the patient has experienced symptoms of erectile dysfunction,” be seen by a state-licensed sexual therapist, and consider celibacy as a better “lifestyle choice.” Like Marzian, McLeod’s bill mimics South Carolina’s own stringent restrictions on abortion.

Making guns as difficult to obtain as an abortion

Instead of cracking down on men’s access to health care, Missouri State Rep. Stacey Newman (D) filed a bill last year to make it just as difficult to buy a deadly weapon in the state as it currently is to get an abortion.

The bill pushed a 72-hour waiting period for prospective gun buyer — similar to the time a woman has to wait before returning to a doctor’s office to get an abortion after her first visit — and banned people from buying a gun more than 120 miles from their home. Additionally, buyers would be required to meet with a physician to discuss the risks of gun ownership and receive information on gun alternatives, like “peaceful and nonviolent conflict resolution.”

“If we truly insist that Missouri cares about ‘all life’, then we must take immediate steps to address our major cities rising rates of gun violence,” Newman said in a statement.

Requesting a religious exception from ‘unscientific laws’

The Satanic Temple — a faith community that describes itself as facilitating “the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty” — campaigned in 2014 for a religious exemption from certain anti-abortion laws, since they didn’t rely on scientific accuracy. On the heels of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, the group said that like the anti-abortion company, their beliefs were violated by state-level laws — specifically the “informed consent” laws that rely on misleading information about abortion risks.

“Because of the respect the Court has given to religious beliefs, and the fact that our our beliefs are based on best available knowledge, we expect that our belief in the illegitimacy of state mandated ‘informational’ material is enough to exempt us, and those who hold our beliefs, from having to receive them,” a spokesperson for the organization said in a statement.