Medical Equity Now (MEN) Act

Summary: The Medical Equity Now (MEN) Act would level the playing field in reproductive rights.

Background Summary

There’s nothing funny about the war on women—or is there? Satire, irony and sarcasm have played a role in debates over public policy for at least 2,500 years—since the age of Aristophanes. Today’s ideological debates are so intense that sometimes a small quiet farce can be more effective than yelling louder. Humor can grab the public’s attention and get people to stop and think for once.

Perhaps we should protect men, because you know they can’t be trusted to make reproductive health choices about Viagra. Virginia State Senator Janet Howell proposed an amendment to an infamous bill that required a mandatory “trans-vaginal” ultrasound procedure for women seeking an abortion. Senator Howell’s amendment would have required men seeking medication for erectile dysfunction to first undergo a prostate exam and a cardiac stress test. Unlike the ultrasound bill, there was actually a sliver of medical justification for the exam and stress test. This amendment was quite a communications success—it was just a few votes shy of passing the Senate and it made the Virginia anti-abortion movement into a nationwide laughingstock.

Perhaps we should ban vasectomies, making sure to “protect the health of the man.” In response to a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, Georgia State Representative Yasmin Neal sponsored legislation to ban vasectomies. As Rep. Neal explained: “I have introduced this legislation because it is the purpose of the General Assembly to assert an invasive state interest in the reproductive habits of the men of this state and substitute the will of the government over the will of adult men…. This bill mimics the abortion bills throughout the nation, and just like the abortion bills interfere with a woman’s right to choose, it’s only fair that the General Assembly debate the men’s right to choose, as well.”

Perhaps we need to declare that “every sperm is sacred.” To counter a fetal personhood bill, Oklahoma State Senator Constance Johnson sponsored an amendment that says any action in which a man ejaculates, or otherwise deposits semen, anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child. As Senator Johnson explained, the bill was intended to point out hypocrisy—and it did so successfully.

When attacking anti-abortion legislation where the asserted reasons for the bill are farcical (e.g. TRAP laws as protecting women’s health), it is entirely appropriate to point out the farce. This is especially true when the anti-abortion legislative supporters are overwhelmingly men who tell women what they should and should not do with their own bodies. Satirical legislation can attract press attention, educate voters about what’s really going on at the State House, and provide a creative way to deal with a serious problem.


Model Legislation

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE

This Act shall be called the “Medical Equity Now (MEN) Act.”

SECTION 2. PROTECTING MEN WHO SEEK MEDICATION FOR REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

(A) FINDINGS—The legislature finds that:

1)      There are non drug alternative treatments for Erectile Dysfunction that have proven to be effective such as penile vacuum pumps, penile implants, acupuncture, blood vessel surgery, and herbal supplements such as Ginseng, DHEA, and Arginine.

2)      Possible side effects of some Erectile Dysfunction medicine is Priapism, an erection that will not go away, sudden vision loss in one or both eyes, sudden hearing decrease or hearing loss.

(B) PROTECTING MEN WHO CAN’T BE TRUSTED TO MAKE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CHOICES

1)      No person other than a physician shall issue a prescription for a drug intended to treat symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

2)      Prior to issuing a prescription for a drug intended to treat symptoms of erectile dysfunction, a physician shall first do all of the following:

(a)     Obtain from the patient a notarized affidavit in which at least one of the patient's sexual partners certifies that the patient has experienced symptoms of erectile dysfunction in the ninety days preceding the date on the affidavit;

(b)     Refer the patient to a sexual therapist approved by the state medical board for an assessment of the possible causes of the patient's symptoms of erectile dysfunction and obtain a written report in which the therapist concludes that the patient's symptoms are not solely attributable to one or more psychological conditions;

(c)     Conduct a cardiac stress test and obtain a result, described in writing, indicating that the patient's cardiac health is compatible with sexual activity;

(d)     Prior to prescribing medication for erectile dysfunction, a physician shall perform a digital rectal examination;

(e)     Notify the patient in writing of the potential risks and complications associated with taking drugs intended to treat erectile dysfunction and obtain the patient's signature on a form acknowledging the patient's receipt of the notification;

(f)     Prior to receiving the medication for erectile dysfunction, the patient will be required to watch a video that is a visual depiction of the the treatment for the most common side effect, priapism.

(g)     Declare in writing, under penalty of perjury, that the drug the physician is prescribing is necessary to treat the patient's symptoms of erectile dysfunction and attach to the declaration a statement that clearly describes the physician's medical rationale for issuing the prescription;

(h)     Place all documents described in divisions (2)(a) to (e) of this section in the patient's medical record and retain the documents as part of that record for not less than seven years.

3)      To ensure the continued health of a patient to whom a prescription for a drug intended to treat symptoms of erectile dysfunction has been issued, a physician shall do both of the following as part of the physician's course of treatment for the patient, including treatment rendered by issuing to that patient a prescription authorizing one or more refills for the drug originally prescribed or a prescription for another drug intended to treat symptoms of erectile dysfunction:

(a)     Require the patient to undergo a cardiac stress test every ninety days while the patient is taking the drug to ensure that the patient's cardiac health continues to be compatible with sexual activity;

(b)     Require the patient to attend three sessions of outpatient counseling within a period of not less than six months after the drug is initially prescribed for purposes of ensuring the patient's understanding of the dangerous side effects of drugs intended to treat the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

4)      The physician shall ensure that the sessions include information on non-pharmaceutical treatments for erectile dysfunction, including sexual counseling and resources for patients to pursue celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice.

SECTION 3. PROTECTING MEN WHO SEEK SURGERY FOR REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

(A) FINDINGS—The legislature finds that:

1)      Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies;

2)      There is substantial evidence that unregulated vasectomies result in fewer unwanted pregnancies and, by extension, fewer births;

3)      It is patently unfair that men can avoid the rewards of unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the Legislature;

4)      Fewer unwanted pregnancies result in fewer children living in poverty and a lower prison population, and this is job killing in a time when social workers, police officers, and prison guards need the employment to feed their families; and

5)      It is the purpose of the Legislature to assert an invasive state interest in the reproductive habits of men in this state and substitute the will of the government over the will of adult men.

(B) PROTECTING MEN WHO CAN’T BE TRUSTED TO MAKE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CHOICES

1)      No person other than a physician shall perform a vasectomy.

2)      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.

3)      No such condition shall be deemed to exist if it is based on a diagnosis or claim of a mental or emotional condition of the man or that the man will purposefully engage in conduct which he intends to result in his death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.

4)      In determining whether a vasectomy is necessary, no regard shall be made to the desire of a man to father children, to his economic situation, to his age, to the number of children he is currently responsible for, or to any danger to his wife or partner in the event a child is conceived.

5)      No vasectomy shall be performed except in a licensed hospital, in a licensed ambulatory surgical center, or in a health facility licensed as a vasectomy facility by the [Department of Health].

6)      Any person who performs a vasectomy, and any person permitting a vasectomy to be performed on him, in violation of this section shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be sentenced to community service of not fewer than 1,040 hours in the field of service to needy families, caring for or counseling abused and neglected children or wayward teens, or performing service to inmates in a jail or correctional institution.

SECTION 4. EVERY SPERM IS SACRED ACT

(A) FINDINGS—The legislature finds that:

1)      Legislative bodies of elected officials throughout the United States have expressed concern about the health and safety of women.

2)      Legislation has been introduced and enacted by various legislative bodies limiting decisions made by women who are making health and safety decisions affecting their bodies.

3)      The same concern has not been address in legislation regarding the men of our country; and

4)      If every female egg is deemed by the government to be a living being, bestowed with all the rights of personhood, and thereby protected from being destroyed or being allowed to die in any way other than the will of the Creator, it follows that every sperm of a male should be likewise deemed by the government to be a living being, bestowed with all the rights of personhood; and

5)      Each “egg person” and each “sperm person” should be deemed equal in the eyes of the government and be subject to the same laws and regulations as any other dependent minor, and be protected against abuse, neglect, or abandonment by their parent or guardian; and

6)      Laws should be enacted by all legislative bodies in the United States to promote equal representation, and should potentially include laws in defense of “personhood”, forbidding every man from destroying his semen.

(B) EVERY SPERM IS SACRED

Any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child, punishable by a fine of $100 for each sperm person killed,  or one day in prison for every sperm killed, or both.

SECTION 5. EFFECTIVE DATE

This Act shall take effect on XXXX 1, 2016.

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