State Rep. Yasmin Neal (D-Jonesboro) will today propose legislation to ban vasectomies in Georgia. Rep. Neal’s bill is a response to HB 954, a so-called “fetal pain” bill sponsored by State Rep. Doug McKillip (
D-R-Athens) that would restrict abortions. Some say that this is a “tit-for-tat” move since both pieces of legislation seek to assert state control over human reproductive function, but this is not true. The two bills are very different -in fact there is a vas deferens between them.
Here’s the news behind the news: HB 954 is Georgia’s example of a law seeking a court challenge that pro-life supporters hope will eventually put a case in front of the US Supreme Court to “settle” the abortion issue. Currently six or seven states have fetal pain laws, including Idaho, where a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Idaho’s abortion law has been filed. So why not wait to see if the Idaho case can make it to the Supreme Court? As one aborto-strategist said: “The facts in that case are bad.” (The plaintiff terminated her own pregnancy using abortifacient drugs, according to a fetal autopsy. Fetal pain bills would restrict legal abortions from no later than 26 weeks post-fertilization to 2o weeks post-fertilization, and require doctors to use procedures that would give “the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive.” So in addition to being “bad,” the facts in the Idaho case don’t fit well with either sides agenda in debate over fetal pain.)
Pro-choice advocates, mostly women and so far only Democrats, have reacted with legislation of their own: In Virginia, a bill requiring men get a digital rectal exam and cardiac stress test before getting a prescription for erectile dysfunction medication was put forward in response to a law requiring an ultrasound before a woman could get an abortion. (It failed to pass.) In Oklahoma, a State Senator tried to amend a “personhood” bill so that “any action in which a man deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.” (The “every sperm is sacred” amendment would have outlawed masturbation and was later tabled, presumably after vocal objections from the Oklahoma Optometrists Association.)
According to Rep. Neal, “Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies.” House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta) added: “…we believe it is the obligation of this General Assembly to assert an equally invasive state interest in the reproductive habits of men…”
Given some of the widely acknowledged (but unspoken) facts and rumors about the living consequences of some state legislators’ behavior, one could make a case that vasectomies should be a prerequisite to elected office, rather than banned outright. It could also be argued that pre-conception laws and post-conception laws are different things, but that would require each side acknowledging the others positions and beliefs in this most contentious debate, and let’s be honest: That ain’t gonna happen.