Women’s reproductive rights have been a hot topic in politics in recent months. Much of it has been dominated by male opinions of what is “right” for a woman’s body—be it doing away with Planned Parenthood or the mortal sin of (gasp!) using birth control. Now it seems female lawmakers have had enough. They’re pushing male reproductive health into the limelight—for perhaps the first time in history.
In recent weeks, female Democrats in at least six different states have proposed bills or amendments that would limit a man’s access to reproductive health care. These bills seem just as extreme as their lady counterparts, varying from banning vasectomies to requiring a partner’s consent to receive erectile dysfunction medicine like Viagra. Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University, told NPR’s Shots that this is how women are responding to the abortion and contraception disputes in politics right now. Yes, ladies and gents, this is political payback.
Some of these bills would prevent men from getting vasectomies without a sound medical reason. One of these is Georgia’s House Bill 1116, which states that thousands of children are “deprived of birth” each year due to the lack of regulation on vasectomies. It goes on to explain that more vasectomies results in fewer births, and that “it is patently unfair that men can avoid the rewards of unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matter is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly.”
Ohio state senator Nina Turner proposed legislation that would require men to get a cardiac stress test before receiving drugs like Viagra, to ensure their heart is healthy enough for sexual activity. But that’s not all: They would also have to get a confirmation from a recent sexual partner that says they are, indeed, experiencing erectile dysfunction. And before a doctor can hand over a prescription, they’d need to see a sex therapist.
And then there’s this: Oklahoma state senator Constance Johnson proposed a bill that would regulate where a man can ejaculate, stating that any time a man deposits semen anywhere but inside a woman, it will be considered an attack on an unborn child, and therefore illegal.
Before you flee the country, gentlemen, the majority of this legislation will not get passed—in fact, none of it may. But that’s not the point. The reason for bringing theses issues to mind, Lawless says, is so Democrats can get independent voters—mainly women—involved in the election and out to vote in November.
Plus, they want to make a point. “My amendment seeks to draw attention to the absurdity, duplicity and lack of balance inherent in the policies of this state in regard to women,” Johnson told The Guardian.
Turner says society has come to accept the way the government can limit a woman’s access to contraception or an abortion as normal.
“We don’t see anything wrong with it because that’s the way we’ve been socialized,” Turner told Shots. This legislation serves to challenge that thinking by turning it around.