In Georgia, as members of the state House of Representative debate a bill that would send people to prison for performing abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, Democratic freshman state representative Yasmin Neal has offered up a bill that prohibits vasectomies.
"Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies," House Bill 116 states. "There is substantial evidence that unregulated vasectomies result in fewer unwanted pregnancies and, by extension, fewer births. It is patently unfair that men can avoid the rewards of unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgement over such matters is more valid than the judgement of the General Assembly."
Predictably, Neal's bill has caused an uproar -- mostly among Republicans who have worked to pass legislation limiting women's access to contraception and abortion services.
"I’m just disappointed in my colleague, that they would take this opportunity to make light of a very important topic," said state Representative Doug McKillip, the Republican who authored the anti-abortion bill, House Bill 954. "I believe this is a serious topic deserving of serious debate. It feels like a poor attempt at humor."
But Neal says she's completely serious, even though she knows her vasectomy bill doesn't stand a chance. McKillip's bill specifically says that mental and emotional illness do not constitute a risk to a woman's life, and Neal borrowed McKillip's exact language for her proposed anti-vasectomy law.
"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," her bill states. "No such condition shall be deemed to exist if it is based on a diagnosis or claim of a mental or emotional condition."
Lawmakers should "Consider the feelings of a woman, if only for a moment" when drafting legislation that tells women what kind of medical decisions they can or cannot make, Neal told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
In Virginia, the Republican governor seems to be considering the feelings of his female citizens: He came out on Wednesday against a bill that would force women seeking abortions for any reason (even rape or incest) to first undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, in which a large probe is pushed into the vagina and up to the cervix in order to produce an image of the developing fetus.
"Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state," Governor Bob McDonnell said in a statement. "No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure."
McDonnell had previously supported the original legislation, which was approved by the state's Senate. The newly revised bill, which passed in the Virginia House of Delegates late Wednesday, now makes only abdominal ultrasounds mandatory before a woman can have an abortion (her doctor can still recommend a transvaginal ultrasound, but the patient can legally refuse it).
In response to the ultrasound bill, Virginia state Senator Janet Howell, a Democrat, proposed that men be forced to undergo a digital rectal exam and a cardiac stress test before being prescribed medication for erectile disfunction. Her amendment failed.
"I was fed up with the way woman's rights were being trampled in Virginia," Howell ">told ABC News. "We didn't have the votes to stop the bill, so I thought I'd use satire and bring a little gender equity to the situation."
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