How’s It Feeling, Gents?

Members of Kentucky’s legislature recently voted 92-3 in favor of a new law mandating counseling for women seeking an abortion. The state already requires parental consent for minors and limits public funding of abortions to life endangerment, rape, and incest. Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, a Democrat from Louisville, was one of three women who voted against the new law. And she had had enough of government intrusion into women’s private health care decisions.

So, Marzian turned the tables and introduced a bill that would intrude into men’s private health care decisions. Enter House Bill 396, legislation that would require any man seeking Viagra, or other erectile dysfunction drug, to have two office visits with his doctor, a signed-and-dated letter from his spouse providing consent, and a sworn statement that he would use the drugs only to have sex with his spouse.

Oh, and only married men would be eligible for the drugs. (It is a Family Values issue, after all.)

Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, states have found ways to limit women’s access — and abortion clinics are closing in record numbers. In fact, five states — Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming — have just one clinic each.

Every week it seems, male-dominated legislatures are creating more abortion hoops to jump through. Kentucky joined 16 other states when it passed the mandatory counseling law for women. Twenty-eight states require a woman to wait a specified period of time, usually 24 hours, between the counseling and her abortion, which effectively requires her to make two separate trips to the clinic. Twenty-two states have burdensome licensing standards that for example, specify the size of procedure rooms and corridor width at clinics.

What does all this mean? It means that access to safe and legal abortion is diminishing. And as this happens, more and more women will be driven to dangerous and illegal means to terminate pregnancies.

If it wasn’t so serious, Marzian’s bold bill would be hilarious. As it turns out, similar legislation has been introduced in Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Female legislators are making the point simply and brilliantly: Don’t infringe on personal decisions between a person and her or his health care provider.

By volunteer Lynda D.

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