Dems Take Aim at Erectile Dysfunction with Bills to Counter Abortion Restrictions

South Carolina Rep. Mia McLeod (D) wants men who claim they need Viagra or other erectile dysfunction medication to get something straight: the government is going to stick its regulatory nose into your bedroom business.

Obviously, this is not just about making it tougher for men who are already having a tough time in bed. McLeod said her legislation regarding male sexuality is meant to give the male-dominated South Carolina Legislature a better idea of the hoops a woman has to jump through before she can get an abortion.

“I purposely tried to make it as invasive, as intrusive, as hypocritical and unnecessary as possible, to make the point,” McLeod told WJBF-TV in Columbia, S.C.

She’s hardly the first pro-choice Democrat to try this kind of legislative gambit. Her compatriots in Georgia, Ohio, Illinois and Virginia have also used attacks on male sexuality in an attempt to counter anti-abortion legislation.

All have failed. McLeod expects to be defeated, too. But that isn’t stopping her.

McLeod has pre-filed H.B. 4543 for the 2016 legislative session. It takes a hard stance on the stampede of men looking for Cialis or Viagra prescriptions. Her legislation would force them to “obtain a notarized affidavit in which at least one of the patient’s sexual partners affirms that the patient has experienced symptoms of erectile dysfunction” in the last 90 days.

Men who want the little blue pills would also have to see a licensed sexual therapist and provide a written report that spells out the patient’s problems and the therapist’s conclusion that the ED is based on medical problems, not psychological factors.

ED patients would also have to “attend three sessions of outpatient counseling within a period of not less than six months after the drug is prescribed.”

In addition to demonstrating what a woman has to do to get a legal abortion, McLeod wrote on her Facebook page that she also wants to show “the tremendous amount of time and tax dollars we expend each legislative session to debate and attempt to diminish (legal) abortion rights in our state.”

Her legislation has attracted international interest.

Following an interview on a Vancouver, British Columbia, radio show, McLeod wrote, “Just got out of church and finished up an interview with CKNW News Talk Radio (Vancouver, B.C). Guess folks everywhere wanna talk about my ED bill...even on Sundays.”

“Initiating a national discussion about the double-standards and hypocrisies that exist when it comes to ‘governing’ the sexual & reproductive health of men & women isn't easy, but long overdue...and definitely progress.”

McLeod’s legislation, which she doesn’t sincerely believe stands the slightest chance of being approved, is controversial. But it is really not that innovative.

Other lawmakers have used male sexuality to make a point about abortion. And even though they always fail, just the idea is enough to stir the left wing of the blogosphere, Twitter and cable TV.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow didn’t know Rep. Yasmin Neal from Eve until the Georgia Democrat introduced legislation that would have prevented men from getting vasectomies unless the operation was needed to avoid serious injury, death, or “impairment of a major bodily function.”

Neal broached the idea in February just as Republicans were pushing legislation to prohibit abortions for women who were more than 20 weeks pregnant. The way she saw it, a ban on vasectomies would impinge on male reproductive rights the same way stopping abortions would for women.

After all, as Neal wrote in her legislation, vasectomies do prevent “thousands of children” from being born.

Less than 24 hours after she filed the proposal in the Georgia House, Neal’s story was placed prominently on Maddow’s blog, she suddenly was trending on Twitter, and was asked to appear on several cable news shows.

Neal’s proposal failed. The ban on abortions after 20 weeks was approved.

Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy also tilted her lance at the legislative windmill in a quixotic attempt to stop a GOP move to limit abortion rights. Her idea was to force men seeking Viagra or Cialis to watch a video of the drug’s potential side effects – the much-feared four-hour erection.

Sen. Janet Howell (D-Va.) had a slightly different idea of how to show men what it was like to have her legislature intrude on a bodily function. She wanted any man seeking a Viagra script to be forced to undergo a rectal exam.

Democratic Rep. Nina Turner of Ohio introduced legislation similar to McLeod’s bill in South Carolina. It would also have forced men to see a psychiatrist before getting Viagra.

Men who wanted their ED medication in the Buckeye State would also have had to undergo a cardiac stress test every 90 days just to be sure their hearts could stand the rigors of sex.

Turner and the others knew their ideas had no chance of being approved by their male colleagues. But they all felt there was a point to be made.

"I really believe that I'm learning something from my conservative, Republican male colleagues - the most important thing on our agenda should be regulation of the sexual health of women," Turner told ABC News. "It's time to show men some love in that regard."