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Posted at 10:08 AM ET, 03/13/2012

Viagra and the little blue bill of Ohio


Of all the reactions to the various efforts to put up roadblocks to a woman’s right to choose or meddle in her health decisions, my hat tips to Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner (D). The state House last year passed the heartbeat bill, which would ban abortion once a heartbeat is detected in a fetus. The state Senate has yet to act, but that hasn’t stopped Turner from taking action. The first-termer has introduced S.B. 307, a bill that, if approved, would make it much more difficult — and embarrassing for many, many men — to get Viagra.

If you want the little blue pill that former senator Bob Dole (R-Kan.) made famous, you and your doctor would have to jump through eight hoops before the physician would be legally permitted to prescribe the anti-erectile-dysfunction drug to you. And each hoop is more intrusive and humiliating than the last.

1.) The patient would have to get an affidavit “in which at least one of the patient’s sexual partners” certifies that the patient has experienced erectile dysfunction in the 90 days leading up to the request for Viagra.

2.) A state-approved sex therapist would have to assess the causes of erectile dysfunction and then submit a report certifying that the patient’s symptoms are not caused by other psychological problems.

3.) A stress test would have to be conducted to ensure the patient is healthy enough for sexual activity.

4.) The doctor would have to notify the patient in writing of the dangers of taking Viagra. And the patient must sign a document certifying that he was informed.

5.) The doctor would have to declare in writing that the drug is necessary and state why.

6.) All these documents would be placed in the patient’s medical file for “not less than seven years.”

But wait, there are two more steps.

7.) Every 90 days while under treatment, the patient would have to undergo a stress test “to ensure that the patient’s cardiac health continues to be compatible with sexual activity.”

8.) And to ensure that the patient continues to understand the “dangerous side effects” of Viagra, the patient would have to attend three outpatient counseling sessions “within a period of not less than six months” after initial prescription.

Okay, have you stopped laughing yet? I mean, can you imagine men subjecting themselves to a stress test every 90 days, let alone getting a paramour to put in writing that his junk’s busted?

The Ohio state legislature is controlled by Republicans. So, Turner’s bill most likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, if at all. Still, it’s brilliant in how it forces us to focus on the absurdity of many of the reproductive health measures littering the legislative landscape by zeroing in Ohio’s heartbeat bill. Asked yesterday by MSNBC's Chris Jansing if she were serious, Turner said she was.

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I’m just as serious as the men policymakers across this nation who have introduced bills to regulate a woman’s reproductive health. You know, Chris, for far too long, elected officials, especially women, we have abdicated our responsibility to show men as much love in the reproductive health arena as they have shown us over the years. And so we must do something about this. So, my bill, Senate Bill 307, is all about the love and making sure that we look out for men’s sexual health....
The point is that within that [heartbeat] bill is some ludicrous language about women having to see a doctor and getting a written explanation. Certainly my bill took some of that language in that a man has to have a long conversation with his physician to determine whether or not this [erectile problem is] physical or mental, on top of making sure he sees a sex therapist. And, you know, Chris, we gotta make sure we guide men to make the right decisions that maybe, maybe  these drugs might not be the best decision for them to make. Celibacy is always an option or natural remedies. But this about setting and leveling the playing field. Women, we are not going to continue to take this lying down. We are going to stand up for the rights that our foremothers have fought for. We’re going to stand up for ourselves. And we are certainly going to stand up for future generations of young women. Women should not need a permission slip from government to take care of their own reproductive health....

The Sunday New York Times had a story about how the national brush fire over birth control access, abortion and overall reproductive health has centrist women casting a wary eye on the Republicans in the presidential race. Echoing Turner’s comment above, Jessica Turner, an independent from San Diego, said, “I’m afraid if we get a Republican president, my health will be up to their personal discretion.” That’s why efforts such as Nina Turner’s are reminders that in the arena of sexual and reproductive health, men are usually the other half of the equation and bear equal responsibility. After all, you can’t get a fetal heartbeat without a man involved.

By  |  10:08 AM ET, 03/13/2012

 
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