Lately, legislation across the United States has been rife with various attacks on anything that gives women even a modicum of control over their bodies. President Obama caved on his administration’s mandate for contraceptive insurance coverage (and no women were allowed on a congressional panel on the matter), Illinois saw two anti-abortion bills pass, Utah is considering imposing a 3-day waiting period before abortions, and three states (Iowa, Texas, Virginia) have proposed (or have already passed) forcing women to have ultrasounds before they can obtain an abortion. In the last week, women everywhere began to realize just how much Republican men hate them when the news Virginia’s ultrasound bill made mainstream headlines. The word “trans-vaginal” had never seen such a limelight before this week.
In response to such “small government” conservative measures, a handful of female lawmakers have realized something recently too — how to wield satire against this crap.
This week, Georgia Democratic state Rep. Yasmin Neal, proposed a law banning vasectomies for men. This was in response to a Republican-backed bill that would ban abortions past 20 weeks as well as raise the standards for “health of the woman” exceptions to the law. Rep. Neal describes the amendment:
Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies. It is patently unfair that men can avoid unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly, while women’s ability to decide is constantly up for debate throughout the United States. Women, our bodies, and what we do with it are always up for debate.
This bill has been drafted for all women who have the wherewithal to choose. The day has come where men should feel the same pressure and invasion of privacy that women have faced for years. I have introduced this legislation because it is the purpose of the General Assembly to assert an invasive state interest in the reproductive habits of the men of this state and substitute the will of the government over the will of adult men.
This bill states that vasectomies can be performed to avert the death of a man or to avert serious risk of substantial or irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the man. This bill mimics the abortion bills throughout the nation, and just like the abortion bills interfere with a woman’s right to choose, it’s only fair that the General Assembly debate the men’s right to choose, as well.
In a similar vein, in Virginia last month, state Senator Janet Howell attached an amendment to the now-infamous ultrasound bill which would require men seeking medication for erectile dysfunction to first undergo a prostate exam and a cardiac stress test. Unlike the ultrasound bill, this at least isn’t wholly extraneous, health-wise.
Additionally, in response to Oklahoma’s fetal personhood bill, state Senator Constance Johnson attempted an amendment to add language which states that
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.
As Sen. Johnson explained in an article about her amendment, these kinds of counter proposals serve to bring attention to how absurd it is to make anyone undergo an irrelevant, invasive exam because their government says so, and to point out the hypocrisy of woman-hating conservatives (how redundant!) who truly just want to restrict women’s options by forcing pregnancies be carried to term and who use concern for zygotes as a cover.
In some corners of the liberal feminist blogosphere, these kinds of counter amendments that would force men to have medically unnecessary exams and procedures have been called just as bad as the awful anti-woman bills they are attached to. However, these two situations are on absolutely unequal ground. It means something very different for a legislative body composed of a majority of men to force women – by law – to give birth if they should ever become pregnant, compared to when a woman offers a snowflake’s-chance-in-hell-of-passing amendment.
For example, the Texas sonogram law was quickly passed in the legislature last year and was then signed into law by Governor Rick Perry. When the law was challenged, a federal court overturned a temporary injunction that had prevented the law from taking effect. In comparison, the Oklahoma “Every Sperm is Sacred” joke-mendment was withdrawn by state Sen. Johnson after she felt her point had been made.
But these dudes aren’t kidding. They really want to put mandates into law which reduce women to incubation devices to be poked, prodded, and humiliated, and they really can rally enough support to actually get this done.
And that ain’t funny. (ZING!)
Image: State Rep. Carol Alvarado holds up a trans-vaginal ultrasound probe on the floor of the Texas legislature