Kentucky Representative Mary Lou Marzian (D-34th) has delivered a pitch perfect response to a mounting rash of activist bills around our nation seeking to restrict women’s autonomy and reproductive freedom, which has intensified since the election of the current president.
Last week a bill reached reached the Oklahoma state legislature requiring women seeking an abortion to present their doctor with the name of the paternal sexual partner and his written permission before obtaining their health care. This is rationalized by the proposal’s author by women’s apparent surrender of autonomy upon having sex: “And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant,” he explained. “So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.” This representative has had no medical training.
Missouri’s current legislative session will address multiple anti-choice measures: gagging state health facilities from discussing abortion, banning fetal tissue research, mandating fetal burials, and making travel with a minor out of state to access an abortion into a felony. Just to name a few.
Texas and Indiana have attempted to mandate fetal burials. Laws challenging access to safe medical abortions in 2016 were almost as numerous as those in the fifteen years prior. North Dakota, Arkansas and Ohio have all tried to ban abortions “post-heartbeat.” Many of these recent bills limiting women’s access to reproductive health care have been struck down in the courts as unconstitutional. Republicans seem to think that this may now change, with an alleged Republican poised to name a new SCOTUS.
In Kentucky last month, the Republican governor signed two bills from the Republican-controlled state legislature, both of which were written with ’emergency’ provisions that made them immediately effective. One bill prohibits any abortion at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy, including pregnancies resulting from rape, incest, or mental health issues. The bill also “includes provisions that would create a trust fund that could accept donations to help pay for any legal costs the state incurs defending the measure, which could be challenged on constitutional grounds,” in recognition that legal challenges may lie ahead. The other bill “requires a physician or technician to perform an ultrasound, describe and display the ultrasound images to the mother, and provide audio of the fetal heartbeat to the mother before she may have an abortion.”
House Bill 369, proposed in the Kentucky state legislature by Representative Marzian, requires men seeking erectile dysfunction treatment to be married, and to present to their doctor written permission from their wife, and a promise that he will only use the prescription medicine during sexual relations with his current spouse, all of which entails two mandatory in-person doctor visits before he may have his prescription filled.
Representative Marzian, who is a nurse and a Catholic, offers two explanations, one tongue in cheek: “it is merely an effort to protect men’s health and ensure they are informed about a drug with potentially dangerous side effects. ‘I want to protect these men from themselves,'” and another sincere: “My point is to illustrate how intrusive and ridiculous it is for elected officials to be inserting themselves into private and personal medical decisions.” She has received support from both colleagues and the public, which she welcomes: “I think women and men are sick of politicians messing in personal, private decisions and not getting the work of the state or the country done.”
Keep the faith. Stay awake.