When male legislators draft and vote on punitive bills that aim to limit and punish women's sex lives—er, I mean, reproductive rights—if they contemplated choosing not to carry every accidental conception to term, what's an outvoted gal legislator to do? Well, some of them have been brilliantly illustrating the unfairness therein by having fun with proposed amendments.
As far as I can tell, it started in Oklahoma. You recall the proposed "spilled semen" amendment, by which Oklahoma state legislator Constance Johnson offered an amendment to the state's "personhood" bill that states that "any action in which a man may ejaculate or otherwise deposit semen anywhere but in a woman's vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child." Why stop at conception? If reproduction is holy, keep all those sacred potential-life bits from being wasted!
There's no stopping an idea whose time has, er, come. Next, as the Commonwealth of Virginia discussed forcing women to have medically unnecessary ultrasounds if they wanted abortions (really? do they think there are any women left who don't know that fetuses have heartbeats?), state senator Virginia Howell proposed an amendment that would even things out—by mandating an equally unnecessary rectal exam before men could be prescribed Viagra. Her reasoning, as quoted by Jezebel:
"We need some gender equity here. The Virginia senate is about to pass a bill that will require a woman to have totally unnecessary medical procedure at their cost and inconvenience. If we're going to do that to women, why not do that to men?"
... It's like Howell has single-handedly invented a twisted new Golden Rule of Politics: "Do unto others' nether regions as they would do unto yours."
But it's not a trend until you have three examples. And now we do. As the Georgia legislature discussed a "personhood" bill that would define life as beginning when a sperm bashes its head into an egg, Rep. Yasmin Neal proposed a sister bill (or should we call it a brother?) that would ban vasectomies, except to save a man's life. The basic principle is the same as the "spilled semen" amendment, but the concepts are filled out still more fully. You gotta read this bill to see how nicely it parallels and comments on all anti-reproductive rights measures:
The General Assembly makes the following findings:
(1) Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies;
(2) There is substantial evidence that unregulated vasectomies result in fewer unwanted pregnancies and, by extension, fewer births;
(3) It is patently unfair that men can avoid the rewards of unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly;
(4) Fewer unwanted pregnancies result in fewer children living in poverty and a lower prison population, and this is job killing in a time when social workers, police officers, and prison guards need the employment to feed their families; and
(5) It is the purpose of the General Assembly to assert an invasive state interest in the reproductive habits of men in this state and substitute the will of the government over the
will of adult men.
In determining whether a vasectomy is necessary, no regard shall be made to the desire of a man to father children, to his economic situation, to his age, to the number of children he
is currently responsible for, or to any danger to his wife or partner in the event a child is
conceived. A vasectomy may only be performed to avert the death of the man or avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the man...
(c) No vasectomy is authorized or shall be performed unless the vasectomy is performed in a licensed hospital, in a licensed ambulatory surgical center, or in a health facility licensed as a vasectomy facility by the Department of Community Health.
Of course no one expects these bits of performance art to become law. But yes, please, let's keep our senses of humor while pointing out how outrageous these attempts to control women's bodies are.
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