Sauce for the gander

Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy has introduced a proposal requiring men who ask their doctors for Viagra to sit through a film showing treatment of its most common side effects, including that mythical four-hour erection.  Apparently it’s not a pretty sight.  Her proposed amendment to the Ultrasound Opportunity Act (obviously named by Eric Blair) parallels the Act’s requirement that women go through a medically unnecessary ultrasound before having an abortion.

Rep. Cassidy, a serious and thoughtful legislator, has declined thus far to accept a suggested friendly amendment requiring these same men to have a pointless and un-anesthetized anal probe.   Nor does anyone recommend modifying the proposal to require colonoscopies, because those would actually benefit the men, and therefore not be parallel to a vaginal invasion at all.

As I stood on a street-corner yesterday leading chants of “Birth control is basic health care!” and “Women are not livestock!” (the latter because the ultrasound bill and other Illinois proposals restricting women’s rights have been sent to the reliably and fanatically anti-choice Agriculture Committee), I wondered if I’d somehow fallen through a wormhole and ended up in 1963.  Hell, even Mad Men has gone further than that.

But if the Republicans want to fight the presidential election on this issue, they can bring it on:  Democrats at every level will win in a landslide.


Author: Kelly Kleiman

Kelly Kleiman is a freelance writer on the arts, feminism, travel and social justice. Her reportage and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor, among other dailies; in magazines, including In These Times and Dance; in the alternative press; on the BBC; and on Chicago Public Radio, where she’s one of the “Dueling Critics” and a contributor to the Onstage Backstage theater blog. She is also a consultant to charities and editor and publisher of The Nonprofiteer, a blog about charity, philanthropy and nonprofit management. She holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Chicago.

19 thoughts on “Sauce for the gander”

  1. …”parallels the Act’s requirement that women go through a medically unnecessary ultrasound before having an abortion.”

    Note: I posted this on a thread below but it seems equally relevant here:

    The only problem with your narrative is that, according to one DC-area Planned Parenthood official recently interviewed, that organization requires vaginal ultrasound of all patients receiving an early term surgical abortion via their standards of care:

    Key graphs:

    ““That’s just the medical standard,” said Adrienne Schreiber, an official at Planned Parenthood’s Washington, D.C., regional office. “To confirm the gestational age of the pregnancy, before any procedure is done, you do an ultrasound.”

    According to Schreiber, Planned Parenthood does require women to give signed consent for abortion procedures, including the ultrasound. But if the women won’t consent to the ultrasound, the abortion cannot take place, according to the group’s national standards.

    Schreiber said there are several options at that point. If the woman is uncomfortable with a transvaginal ultrasound, which is more invasive, she can wait until the fetus is large enough to opt for a transabdominal ultrasound.

    “But if she’s uncomfortable with a transvaginal ultrasound, then she’s not going to be comfortable with an equally invasive abortion procedure,” Schreiber told me.”

    This is consistent with a 2003 study, which generally found the same thing on a national basis:

    So if you still think that its akin to “rape” to require a vaginal ultrasound before an early-term abortion procedure (Note to self: call the police to report widespread rape at Planned Parenthood clinics), then I’ll be very happy to support a compromise law that should smooth over your concerns: Namely, I’d be very happy to support a law that simply said that IF an ultrasound (vaginal or abdominal as the case may be) is performed prior to an abortion procedure that the provider of the abortion is required to show the ultrasound image to the patient receiving the abortion before moving forward with the procedure. No required medical procedure whatsoever, just a requirement that the patient be provided in real time with the fullness of diagnostic information already being collected.

    Somehow I doubt that PP would be thrilled about that though. After all – a very large % of the organization;s clinical income derives from making sure that women who come in requesting elective abortion go through with the procedure.

    1. All of this is utterly irrelevant, what happens betwen a patient and doctor is not the state’s business. But everyone does it! is not sufficient reason to codify it in to law.

      1. I don’t want to be a prick here, and I’ve no patience with the “Ultrasound Opportunity Act”, but your statement is nonsense. Of COURSE the state has an interest in what happens between patient and doctor — unless you’re in a pretty thinly populated libertarian minority.

        The state cares about what opiates a doctor prescribes patients, it cares about euthanasia, it cares about whether the patient is a wife being beaten by her husband, or a child being beaten by its parents, it cares about consent and informed consent, and ethical treatment boards, etc etc.
        Pretty soon (if medical care is ever to be rationalized in this country) it will care about whether care corresponds to best known practices.

        I don’t think this particular line of complaint and attack is at all useful.

        1. No, because this act is not about mandating good patient care; it’s about requiring specific practices, regardless of the medical ethics involved.

          The backers are not even trying hard to pretend.

    2. I think Sarah Torian said it best (in the comments to the article you linked to):

      Sarah Torian says:
      February 24, 2012 at 11:10 am

      If a woman and her medical provider determine that an ultrasound is necessary for any medical procedure she is about to have, I have no problem with that. When legislators — the majority of whom neither have a medical degree nor are physically capable of becoming pregnant due to the fact that they are male — pass legislation that requires an ultrasound for all women in order to get a specific medical procedure, I have a big problem with that. What happened to keeping government out of our lives and out of our health systems? Isn’t that what many of these same elected officials have been railing about with regards to Obamacare?

      1. I am not sympathetic to this type of requirement. However, if instead of mandating an imaging procedure, a law had been proposed requiring that a patient be shown the results of any imaging procedure that was done in the course of treatment, I suspect that the opposition and outrage would have been significantly diminished. This is a case in which the Right misframed the issue, and when you are trying to get people to go along with stupid laws, often framing is all you have going for them.

        1. You raise an interesting point. Of course now that the article sd linked to is bouncing all over Red Blogosphere, I think we can anticipate a shift in strategy similar to what you suggest.

    3. Except that these bills don’t require the ultrasound for medical reasons; they require it to dissuade the woman from having an abortion. To quote, for example, from HR 3805 (a bill that, thankfully, will never make it through the US Senate):

      Prior to a woman giving informed consent to having any part of an abortion performed, the abortion provider who is to perform the abortion, or an agent under the supervision of the provider, shall–
      (1) perform an obstetric ultrasound on the pregnant woman;
      (2) provide a simultaneous explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting;
      (3) display the ultrasound images so that the pregnant woman may view them; and
      (4) provide a complete medical description of the ultrasound images, which shall include all of the following: the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, cardiac activity if present and visible, and the presence of external members and internal organs if present and viewable.

      The problem I have with this kind of thing is how cruel it is to those women who do not want to have an abortion, but are the victims of circumstance and have no choice.

      Consider this: A couple has been trying for a baby for a few years now, and finally, they’re having success. Except that they soon find out that their unborn child has the BRA variant of Potter’s Syndrome (missing both kidneys), which is 100% fatal (and sadly, happens to hundreds of Americans annually). Even if the baby survives birth, it will die within hours, painfully, from renal failure. In tears, they decide to spare their baby that kind of suffering and have an abortion.

      And now the state, in its infinite wisdom, wants to make sure to rub it in; to make it as graphic as possible to them what they’re losing (as though they didn’t already know), to amplify the trauma of their loss.

  2. Hah! But one must be careful…this is how gender became a protected class. Howard Smith…1964 Civil Rights Act.*

    *Well, the CV was that Smith, a Dixiecrat, thought everyone would think it absurd to include women. So he tossed them in the ring believing this would kill the bill. But then everyone was like “WTF, we’ll just go all Betty Friedan on his ass and take care of women’s rights too”. He read the tealeaves wrong.

    But after typing the first paragraph, I checked his wiki entry just to make sure I got it right…and low an behold folks are now saying he was serious the whole time. A Segregationist male Feminist? I’ve delved deep enough into civil rights history to know that these fuckers came in all different stripes. But this is a first. Worth looking into.

    1. Perportedly, rightwing thinktanks, for years have been opperating boiler rooms to scrub sites such as wikipedia so all information bearing on conservative enthusiasms must be taken with a lot of grains of salt. Political money buys more than TV ads.

  3. While amusing a perhaps a bit more relevant than previous efforts to attach anal probe requirements to similar bills, it’s more than a little hypocritical to object to the ultrasound requirement if she’s going to propose this. She’s removed her own ability to argue against the ultrasound requirement on the merits, and turned the debate into a tit-for-tat. Aren’t there ANY adults in government?

    If I were considering Viagra I would want to receive as much information as possible about side-effects, and would even want to see the proposed film, if available. But that should be my choice. I strongly object to this proposal on the same grounds as the ultrasound requirement.

    1. You have managed to miss the point completely. The point is that Republican legislators think women need to be more forcefully “informed” about the nature and effects of a legal medical decision they are making, but do not think the same of a different population – one composed largely of middle-aged men, like the legislators themselves. I’m really quite certain the intention was to highlight this disparate treatment, and to demonstrate that in fact the abortion legislation has nothing to do with the patient’s medical treatment – or else similarly misguided compulsory education would be legislatively mandated with other procedures, when in fact such a proposal is treated a the absurdity that it is – that the abortion legislation also is.

      1. You have managed to miss the point completely.

        I get the point (duh). I’m just disagreeing with the method of making it. Two wrongs and all that.

        The point is that Republican legislators think women need to be more forcefully “informed” about the nature and effects of a legal medical decision they are making, but do not think the same of a different population – one composed largely of middle-aged men, like the legislators themselves.

        Do you really think that’s what they think? Haven’t you wondered why they would be so concerned about requiring “informed consent” for such a narrow range of procedures that they strongly object to and not for others that they have no objections about? Aren’t you suspicious that it’s all about raising barriers to a procedure they are opposed to and not really about “informed consent” at all?

        I’m really quite certain the intention was to highlight this disparate treatment, and to demonstrate that in fact the abortion legislation has nothing to do with the patient’s medical treatment

        Do you really think they don’t already know that? Who doesn’t see this, or needs it demonstrated to them?

        I think Kathleen had the best response — call their bluff (from Mark’s post on the subject):

        If they’re all about “informed consent,” they should require that pregnant women be informed that pregnancy is more dangerous to their health than abortion and that pregnancy has the higher mortality rate.

        They should also require that pregnant women be shown videos of: a C-section; an episiotomy; a woman in prolonged labor; toddler and teenager temper tantrums; and that they be given a spreadsheet of 18+ years of costs.

        1. Freeman says:

          “I get the point (duh). I’m just disagreeing with the method of making it. Two wrongs and all that.”

          No, you missed it by a mile. And the way of making the point is rather clever – sauce for the gander.

          1. Sigh… Yes, Barry, I get the point. Apparently both sides are a lot more interested in sticking it to each other than sticking to principle. How “clever”. And if you think I’ve missed the point by a mile, then you’ve missed my counter-point by a million miles. See this comment below for more details if you care.

            You may think this proposal is a “clever” way to get the other side to back down, but have you thought it out? What if they agree to it, since they’ve got the easy side of the deal and they still get everything they really want and you don’t get anything you really want? Now you’ve got twice as many stupid government-mandated prerequisites to receiving legal medical treatment, when you were just trying to stop the first one. Congratulations, Einstein!

  4. Shouldn’t the title be “sauce for the gEnder’? Who does the pun-headlines around here?

  5. I love sd’s argument – if something is generally done, then it’s OK to mandate it.

    And, as has been pointed out, there is no exemption clause here, and neither sd nor Brett nor any other right-wing is complaining about that.

  6. Here’s why I think Kathleen’s strategy is far superior to Kelly Cassidy’s:

    In conflict resolution, it’s important to keep your goals in sharp focus and remember that while sticking it to the other guy may be a means to an end, it is not the end itself (unless your goal is just to stick it to the other guy — but then you’re not interested in conflict resolution in that case).

    1) If your goal is to prevent or reduce the occurrence of spurious prerequisites to receiving legal medical treatment mandated under the guise of “informed consent”, demanding more of the same can only be counterproductive to your goal if that demand is actually met, and prevents you from plausibly advocating for your goal on the merits in any case.

    2) It’s a poor trade-off. The requirements for the male procedure are far less invasive and expensive. The other side is likely to take advantage of the huge imbalance in their favor and call you on it. If they do, then what? See 1) Game over — you lose.

    3) It’s overkill. It doesn’t make sense to fight fire with fire when all they have is smoke. All that does is scorch the earth unnecessarily.

    They’re bluffing, you know it. Don’t bluff back — call them on it! Honesty is always the best policy so demand honesty and demand it of yourself while you’re at it and you can’t lose! There are only three possible outcomes, all of which are at least somewhat favorable to your goal:

    1) Your demand for full disclosure of all relevant information if they are going to insist on an “informed consent” clause is rejected and the bill is passed. You have put them in position 1) above — they can no longer plausibly argue that fully informed consent is their concern. You can still plausibly argue your cause. Who has the advantage when this gets to court? There’s also nothing stopping the health care provider from providing all the information on their own initiative even if it doesn’t go to court.

    2) Your demand is met and the bill is passed. Your goal is not met, but the effect the opposition is going for has been mitigated to some degree and the opposition knows it full well. The outcome is at least as undesirable to them as it is to you, so this is perhaps the least likely outcome.

    3) The “informed consent” bill is quietly dropped and the opposition gives up on this tactic. Need I say that’s a total win? I’d say this outcome is at least as likely as either of the others.

Comments are closed.