Satire has been an effective legislative tool of late for Democrats – an appropriate response to what we’ve seen from the Republican Party since the 2010 midterms. It has taken different form. Mississippi lawmaker Stephen Holland’s proposed rechristening of the Gulf of Mexico as “the Gulf of America” seemed to be a ploy to help expose extreme Republican rhetoric about immigration. When state lawmakers in Georgia and Virginia proposed, respectively, limiting vasectomies and mandating rectal exams, the satire was aimed at stopping anti-abortion bills.
Another such piece of legislation is now being targeted by a state senator from my native Cleveland. Ohio’s “heartbeat” bill would outlaw any abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into the pregancy. Pema Levy at TPM reports that State Senator Nina Turner will introduce her own bill today instituting psychological testing and other limits on prescription drugs treating erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra. From the ProgressOhio blog:
…[the legislation] would protect men in Ohio from the risks of PDE-5 inhibitors, drugs commonly used to treat symptoms of impotence. Turner’s legislation would include provisions to document that the symptoms are not psychological in nature, and would guide men to make the right decision for their bodies. Physicians would be required to obtain a second opinion from a psychological professional to verify that a patient has a true medical malady before the medication could be prescribed.
Much as State Rep. Kelly Cassidy did recently in Illinois, Turner is using the very real health danger of the “little blue pill” to stop Republican overreach against reproductive rights. TPM’s interview with her made it plain that she’s not kidding:
Turner believes the Heartbeat Bill has a good chance of making it through the Senate, but as for her legislation, she hopes “that it will cause our Senate here in Ohio to pause for a minute and kind of reflect on what we’re doing and what we’re subjecting women to.” Turner expects the bill to be assigned to a committee and hopes the chairperson will allow testimony on it. “I’m serious about this, this is a serious matter, and the drug in question does have some serious risks,” said Turner. “I plan to go all the way with this legislation.”
Turner is actually putting into law what the pharmaceutical companies that market these medications advise men to do anyway: seek the counsel of a doctor, make sure that their hearts are healthy enough for sex, etc. Like Cassidy, she has found a way to be satirical and serious at the same time – a fitting response to a Republican trend of treating serious women’s health issues like a joke.