JEFFERSON CITY | Female Democratic lawmakers have come up with a tongue-in-cheek response to last week's Missouri House vote objecting to the Obama administration’s mandate that health insurance policies include birth-control coverage.
They introduced a bill restricting vasectomies.
“If we are going to seriously restrict access to birth control used by over 98 percent of Missouri women and widely used since 1960, then it’s only fair we legislate men’s access as well,” one of the bill’s sponsors, Democratic Rep. Stacey Newman of Richmond Heights, said in a statement.
The anti-vasectomy bill reads in part: “In determining whether a vasectomy is necessary, no regard shall be made to the desire of a man to father children, his economic situation, his age, the number of children he is currently responsible for, or any danger to his wife or partner in the event a child is conceived. A vasectomy shall only be performed to avert the death of the man or avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the man.”
Nine women co-sponsored the bill. No men were asked sign on in support.
The fierce and emotional debate playing out across the nation over the contraception issue has included its fair share of symbolism. The Missouri House vote last week was a non-binding resolution, but it still sparked a protest from seven female House Democrats who said they were denied their chance to speak against the bill.
In Washington, D.C., Republicans caught flak for holding a public hearing on the contraception issue that included testimony from an all-male panel. Democrats responded with a “hearing” of their own that featured one female witness.
Republicans have argued that federal mandate violates a constitutional right to religious freedom, since many religious groups object to the use of contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.
Democrats counter that the issue was really about women’s health, not religion, and that women deserve access to preventative care.
Newman’s bill is similar to anti-vasectomy legislation filed in Georgia after an anti-abortion bill was debated in that state’s Legislature.
Yesterday, a push by Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri to repeal the federal mandate was defeated by Democrats.