Politics & Government

Kentucky lawmaker spoofs anti-abortion measures with Viagra bill

Lawmakers on the floor of the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Frankfort, Ky.
Lawmakers on the floor of the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Frankfort, Ky.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Angered by several anti-abortion bills this winter with language restricting a woman’s relationship with her doctor, Democratic state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian fired back Thursday with a bill to limit men’s access to Viagra and other erectile-dysfunction drugs.

House Bill 396 warns men of the health risks of sexual-enhancement pills — “such as an erection that will not go away and lasts more than four hours, sudden vision loss in one or both eyes, and sudden hearing decrease” — and it requires them to have two visits with their doctor on separate days before they get a prescription, so they have time to truly consider what they’re doing.

Even after two visits, doctors could only prescribe the pills to men who are married, with a signed and dated letter from their spouse confirming plans to use the pills together. Finally, the man must place his hand on the Bible and swear that he will use the pills to have sex with “his current spouse.”

Much of the bill’s sentiment, and some of its precise language, mirrors the anti-abortion bills moving through the 2016 General Assembly, such as requiring women to undergo ultrasounds before an abortion and attend “informed consent” consultations 24 hours in advance of the procedure.

That’s not a coincidence, said Marzian, a retired Louisville nurse since 1994.

“I just thought my 80 male colleagues in the House might like to consider what it feels like when legislators get between them and their physicians,” she said Friday. “I filed it to make a point, that a bunch of laypersons with no medical training should not be making medical decisions for Kentucky women.”

After getting favorable emails and phone calls about her bill on Friday, Marzian said she might ask for it to be heard by the House Health and Welfare Committee, “and, hey, let’s see where it goes.”

About 80 percent of the House members are men, and nearly half are 60 or older.

Opponents of the “informed consent” abortion bill also took to Twitter Friday, directing ire at Gov. Matt Bevin for ceremonially signing the measure into law Thursday. The hashtag #askbevinaboutmyvag was the top trending topic on Twitter in Louisville Friday afternoon.

As originally written by Senate Republicans, Senate Bill 4 would require that women have a face-to-face meeting with their doctor at least 24 hours before getting an abortion to hear of the medical risks and benefits, of the legal responsibilities of the man who impregnated them, and of adoption alternatives should they choose to give birth. House Democrats amended the bill to add the option of a live video chat between women and their doctors.

John Cheves: 859-231-3266, @BGPolitics

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