As a woman, watching what’s happening in Texas is a study in dichotomies. On the one hand, the right to speak about reproductive rights at all is fairly astonishing and heartening given the relative inability of women the world over to do the same. On the other, the most hateful among us appear to be squandering that precious gift by — well — chanting “Hail, Satan!” at people who have a different take on reproductive rights (read: the right to reproduce), and celebrating being a “ho.” Pretty sure that’s not what the early crusaders for women’s rights in this country had in mind, but whatever. Times change.
What does not change, however, is the human tendency — particularly in politics — of those on the side of a losing argument to devolve their protestations into puerility and desperation, both in an attempt to gain attention to “the cause,” and to shock and offend; because shocking and offensive behavior drives the news cycle, and the news cycle (in theory) determines relevance. Hence, the very ridiculous images and videos coming out of Texas as they debate late-term abortion.
Virginia State Senator Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier County) introduces a bill to require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. In protest, State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) introduces an amendment requiring a cardiac stress test and rectal exam before men can be prescribed erectile dysfunction medication. Vogel’s bill passes by voice vote while Howell’s amendment narrowly fails. Glenn Reynolds, A.K.A. Instapundit, declares himself “okay with abortion” but reserves all of his outrage for the failed amendment, insisting that what we’re seeing here is “a false equivalence” and “kindergarten style payback.” Something is very wrong with this picture.
In a way, Reynolds is right. We are seeing a false equivalence. While there is absolutely no medical reason to require women to have ultrasounds before undergoing abortion procedures, there are good medical reasons to require men to undergo rectal exams and cardiac stress tests before being prescribed erectile dysfunction drugs. Included among the side effects of Viagra, for example, are rectal bleeding, colitis, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat. I don’t know if Howell had any of these side effects in mind when she proposed her amendment or if she was instead purely interested in kindergarten style payback, but either way her amendment actually makes more sense from a medical perspective than does Vogel’s.