This afternoon, as the Senate began debate on Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) amendment to prohibit federal funds from being used for abortions or for plans that include abortion services, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) drew a parallel to help the amendment’s male co-sponsors better understand its repercussions.
Since Nelson’s measure forces women to purchase special abortion riders, Boxer challenged “the men who have brought us this” to “single out a procedure that’s used by a man or a drug that is used by a man that involves his reproductive health care and say they have to get a special rider”:
There’s nothing in this amendment that says if a man some days wants to buy Viagra, for example, that his pharmaceutical coverage cannot cover it, that he has to buy a rider. I wouldn’t support that. And they shouldn’t support going after a woman using her own private funds for her reproductive health care. Is it fair to say to a man you’re going to have to buy a rider to buy Viagra and this will be public information that could be accessed? No, I don’t support that. I support a man’s privacy, just as i support a woman’s privacy.
When Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced a very similar amendment during the Senate Finance Committee’s mark-up of the health care bill, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) called the measure “offensive.” “This is an unprecedented restriction on people who paid for their own health care insurance,” Stabenow said. “The assumption that somehow a woman or family would say, ‘you know some day we may have an unintended pregnancy, so we’ll get a separate rider or maybe my pregnancy is going to have a crisis, many, many crises, and so we’re going to find some other rider.’ In my judgment, I don’t even know how that would work.”
Nelson’s amendment — which is expected to fail on the Senate floor — closely resembles the restrictive Stupak language in the House health care bill. Sens. Hatch, Casey, Brownback, Thune, Enzi, Coburn, Johanns, Vitter, and Barrasso are co-sponsoring the measure.