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Fighting Back with Sperm Personhood and Viagra Limitations

by Ann Rose

March 28, 2012

Since 1976 when the Hyde Amendment passed, I've been hopelessly annoyed with the pro-choice movement for always being on the defensive. We are always fighting insane bills cooked up by the anti-abortion movement and never advancing our own agenda.

Thankfully, in retaliation for the states passing more anti-abortion legislation in 2011 than ever, some creative state legislators are now introducing their own tongue-in-cheek legislation to highlight the absurdity of anti-abortion personhood, waiting period and see-your-sonogram proposals.

The legislature in Mississippi is currently trying to legislate fetal "personhood" -- only several months after the state's "Personhood Amendment" was flushed down the drain by voters in a ballot measure.

Thankfully, some brave and inventive women legislators all over the country are retaliating with their own "Sperm Personhood Legislation."

To quote Charlotte Taft of the Abortion Care Network: "I hate to remind you of the slaughter, but every day billions of sperm die an agonizing death of dehydration in socks, towels, and, well… places you cannot even imagine. Studies have shown that sperm feel pain while they are still in the testes. A little known scientific fact is that these sperm in pain are the source of the heartbreaking malady known as 'Blue Balls.' Besides this very real pain, for years the vicious Women's Lib Birth Control Movement has sought to deprive sperm of the very thing they need to stay alive --an egg."

And, to further highlight the absurdity of "personhood" laws and other encroachments on women's reproductive rights, Wilmington Delaware City Councilman Loretta Walsh introduced (and it passed 8-4) a resolution which declares that "[E]ach 'egg person' and each 'sperm person' should be deemed equal in the eyes of the government and be subject to the same laws and regulations as any other dependent minor and be protected against abuse, neglect or abandonment by the parent or guardian."

One creative blogger on DailyKos suggests other antitdotes to the anti-abortion "personhood" proposals: "Attach any of these as amendments: 1) The mother is allowed to claim the zygote as a dependent on her taxes; 2) Give the zygote a vote beginning with the next election, as interpreted by the mother (pray for twins, ladies -- you'll get three votes); 3) Give the zygote the right to collect Social Security, food stamps, and other "entitlement" resources; 4) Give the zygote residential status beginning at conception; 5) Attach an amendment saying fathers owe child support beginning at conception."

Even though the irony escapes most Republicans, other innovative legislators have envisioned new bills to address the "personhood" silliness. According to the Huffington Post, Oklahoma Democrat, State Sen. Constance Johnson, introduced (and then withdrew) an anti-masturbation amendment, reading: "(A)ny action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman's vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child."

Vasectomy regulations are also popping up as countermeasures to anti-women laws. Rep. Yasmin Neal introduced a protest bill limiting vasectomies for men since the Georgia legislature is considering limiting abortion for women. As her colleague Sen. Nan Orrock noted, with approaval, it's "a bill for all women who are tired of the double standard perpetuated by men".

Viagra limitations are also gaining steam. As the Virginia legislature considered a bill requiring women to undergo mandatory ultrasounds before abortions, State Sen. Janet Howell suggested an amendment mandating that men get an invasive rectal exam and a cardiac stress test prior to the possibility of erectile dysfunction treatment.

Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner attracted liberal media attention for her Viagra bill. She wants to "protect" Ohio's men "from the risks of PDE-5 inhibitors, drugs commonly used to treat symptoms of impotence." Turner insisted that the men in the legislature are being so thoughtful about restricting women's parts that she thought she would return the favor.

As the anti-abortion insanity continues, more pro-choice voices are parrying responses. For example, the Tennessee legislature heard a bill that would require the publication of information on abortion procedures, including the doctor's name and information that could potentially identify patients. One abortion doctor responded by quipping, "I think they should also publish HIV test results, patients being treated for erectile dysfunction and the names of all the legislators who have cranio-rectal inversion (that's a condition where the legislator has his head up his ass)."

Creative activists are also sending packages to right-wing legislators. One project sends coathangers to remind legislators of the days of illegal abortions. Another suggests sending used tampons and sanitary pads -- evidence in a "murder investigation" of an alleged miscarriage.

And the Snatchel Project is knitting vaginas to send to male legislators. According to HappyPlace, "Nothing scares a gynophobic congressman like when they open a box and discover what they think is a constituent's lovely knit hat or scarf, only to pick it up and realize they've touched their hands upon the filthy, evil uterus they've been fighting so hard to destroy."

Finally, it's time for gander to meet goose.

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Ann Rose has worked with abortion and family planning clinics since 1976. In 1995, she created Abortion Clinics OnLine>, the world's largest source for online abortion clinic websites. She also blogs frequently at Daily Kos.

"Fine Thoughts on Fetal Personhood": Cartoon by Matt Bors and Poetry by Marge Piercy in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.

"Satirist's View: Same Old Dilemma, or The Virgin Rebirth" by Susie Day in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.


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