It’s all about gender equality in the state of Virginia, at least when it comes to potentially invasive and unnecessary testing to get reproductive health care. State Senator Janet Howell showed her love for the gentlemen of Virginia by proposing an amendment to a recent abortion bill.
The original bill requires women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound to decide the fetus’ age and date of conception – one of many such “personhood amendments” finding their way through legislatures in the past year according to The United Press International.
Senator Howell couldn’t swallow her outrage at the bill and fought back by introducing an amendment of her own. The Washington Post reports that Senator Howell introduced a “gender equality” amendment to the abortion bill requiring all men seeking medication for erectile dysfunction to undergo a manual rectal exam and cardiac stress test before being prescribed medications like Viagra.
The testing proposed by Senator Howell’s amendment is ridiculous – just like the testing proposed under Virginia House Bill 1. The stipulations of HB 1 would make abortions out of the question for many low-income and underserved women, who would have to pay for the testing. Not only that, but women who are already making a tough decision would be forced to see the ultrasound, adding to their already vulnerable state. The time, resources and cost involved would make a sometimes necessary medical procedure out of reach for many women. NBC29 news quotes the senator, calling the required testing “emotional blackmail.”
Senator Howell’s proposal highlights the unfairness of the bill. The senator didn’t actually expect the bill to pass, but was surprised when the bill fell limp and was struck down with only a narrow margin by a 19-21 vote. According to The Washington Post, the original abortion bill is expected to pass its upcoming vote in the upper chamber of the senate.
So while men aren’t (yet) required to bend over and take one for the team before receiving wholly elective medication therapies to treat a non-life threatening condition, even women who need emergency treatment to save their lives could be subjected to unnecessary testing, wait times and cost in the state of Virginia. Senator Howell is right – it doesn’t seem fair.