The Virginia legislature is starting off 2012 with a bicameral attack on a woman’s right to choose. The General Assembly’s very first bill, House Bill 1, is a “personhood” amendment that seeks to essentially outlaw abortions. Over in the state senate, Sen. Jill Vogel (R) has introduced a bill that would require all women seeking an abortion “to have an ultrasound image taken to determine the gestational age of the fetus.” Piqued by the unnecessary intrusion into a woman’s doctor-patient relationship, state Sen. Janet Howell (D) sought to level the playing field.
“If pregnant women should have to get an ultrasound before having an abortion, men should have to undergo additional medical procedures before getting a prescription for erectile dysfunction,” she noted, and introduced an amendment to Vogel’s bill requiring that men “undergo a digital rectal exam” for pills like Viagra:
On Monday Howell expressed her disdain for legislation requiring the ultrasound by proposing an amendment she described as a simple matter of fairness. Her amendment said that before being treated for erectile dysfunction, a man would have to undergo a digital rectal exam and a cardiac stress test.“We should just have a little gender equity here,” Howell said.
Vogel argued that “erectile dysfunction, in this context, is different from pregnancy,” and the “gender equity” amendment failed in a 21 to 19 vote mostly along party lines. Vogel’s ultrasound bill will receive a final vote today, and is expected to clear the full Senate.
Aware that such measures are a blatant attempt to obstruct and intimidate women from considering their constitutional right to an abortion, Howell pointed out that the ultrasound is also “adding to the cost” and “opening up [women] to emotional blackmail.”