Politics

Men would need to clear new hurdles to get prescriptions for erectile dysfunction under a bill filed Thursday in the state House.

State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, a Louisville Democrat, said the bill seeks to balance the recent legislative scrutiny of women’s reproductive health with a dose of attention to men.

“The current legislature does not mind inserting itself into personal, private decisions of the 2 million women of the commonwealth that may need reproductive health services,” Marzian said.

“So if we’re going to start inserting ourselves into reproductive issues and health issues, then I think we should also insert them into men’s reproductive health issues.”

The bill would require men to have two meetings with a doctor before receiving a prescription for products like Viagra.

Men would also be required to make a sworn statement — hand on Bible — that the prescription would only be used during sexual relations with their current spouse.

Spouses would have to provide a signed and dated letter providing consent.

When asked how her colleagues received the bill, Marzian said “all of them claimed they don’t know anything about erectile dysfunction.”

Marzian said her bill is in reaction to the handful of anti-abortion measures that the legislature has either passed or is considering this year.

“It’s inappropriate and ridiculous to have one abortion bill after another, and it’s all political, it’s all politicized and it’s taking votes on the backs of women,” Marzian said.

Gov. Matt Bevin recently signed into law an “informed consent” abortion bill that would require women to have a face-to-face or videoconference meeting with a doctor at least 24 hours before the procedure.

The state Senate last week passed a bill that would defund the state’s contribution to Planned Parenthood clinics.

A Senate committee earlier this week approved a bill that would require abortion providers to describe the sonogram image of the fetus before a woman goes through with the procedure.

The anti-abortion trend comes at a time when Republican ranks are growing in the Capitol. With Bevin and a GOP-controlled Senate, the House is the only Democratic-led body in the legislative process.

The House blocked anti-abortion bills in past legislative sessions. But not this year.

State Rep. Tom Burch, a Democrat from Louisville, said his caucus is afraid of losing the votes of abortion opponents.

“I think that they think that there’s a large vote out there that might cause them some problems back home,” Burch said.

Democrats have a slim 50-46 lead in the House, and all 100 seats are up for re-election in what many observers say is an increasingly conservative state.

Burch said he’ll hear Marzian’s bill if it’s assigned to the Health and Welfare Committee, which he chairs, and if she asks.

“Women have a right to make their decisions too, just like men do. And I don’t see men having a right to tell women anything,” Burch said.

Marzian said she plans to ask for that committee hearing.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives.