If Women Seeking Abortions Are Forced to Have Ultrasounds, Should Men Buying Viagra Get Rectal Exams?

Virginia State Senator Janet Howell proposed on Monday an amendment that would require men to take rectal exams and cardiac stress tests prior to receiving prescriptions for erectile dysfunction medication. Howell floated the amendment in response to recently-passed state legislation that necessitated an ultrasound for women who are seeking abortions; legislation that she said was unbalanced against women. With regard to this mandatory ultrasound bill, it only seems fair for men to undergo similarly inconvenient rectal exams and cardiac stress tests at their expense. This would demonstrate a more level view of health care for both sexes. 

“If we’re going to do that to women, why not do that to men?” Howell told the Huffington Post. The amendment was rejected, but the mandatory ultrasound bill passed on Wednesday. Howell expected the Republican-dominated Senate to decline the amendment, but it was not a completely unsuccessful move, as the 21-19 vote indicates a significant portion of legislators agreed with her. “This is more of a message type of amendment, so I was pleased to get 19 votes,” Howell said. 

The opposition to this amendment and the approval of the ultrasound bill highlights that there is a severe gender imbalance when it comes to the sexual freedoms of men and women. Howell made the correct move to draw attention to the injustices that continue to occur against women’s rights. 

Virginia State Senator Jill Vogel, who sponsored the mandatory ultrasound bill, was the only female senator to vote against Howell’s amendment. The other six women in the Virginia Senate, along with 13 male senators, voted in favor of the amendment. Men made up the majority that denied the Howell amendment. These men were able to see how irrelevant, costly, and useless rectal exams and cardiac stress tests would be for men requesting Viagra. How come they couldn’t recognize the added burden, inconvenience, and cost ultrasounds would put on women attempting abortions? 

A vote of 21-18 approved the mandatory ultrasound bill that now requires women seeking abortions in the state to undergo an ultrasound and in turn provide an image of the fetus. She will then sign a written certification that she was offered the opportunity to view this image before seeking an abortion.

The medical professional performing this procedure is also required to record whether the patient decided to see the ultrasound image or listen to the heartbeat, although the woman is not required to do either.

Hence, women will just be wasting additional time and money on a procedure done in order to please the conservatives who voted in favor of the bill. This is an obvious attempt to trigger a decline in abortion rates, and deny women the opportunity to make decisions about their bodies.

Since Virginia Republicans are the only ones gaining from this excessive procedure, they should also be in favor of paying for it themselves. It’s not fair to implement this counterproductive process on women and expect them to fund it as well. In an economic recession, this is the last thing women need. 

The expectation is that Governor Bob McDonnell, who has already expressed his approval, will sign the bill into law in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates. It is time for conservatives to address economic issues, which are much more rewarding and valuable to Americans, than interfering with health care decisions that should be made by women and their doctors. 

 Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Sifat Azad

Sifat is pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Kingston University in London as the first-ever recipient of the Hilary Mantel Creative Writing Scholarship Award. She is a CUNY Baccalaureate graduate with dual concentrations in Literature and Creative Writing. Her piece, "Covered," was featured in John Jay's Finest and her short story, "Brownstone," was published in J Journal: New Writing on Justice.

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