Monday, January 18, 2016

The Lee Bright Method

In the interest of bringing the country, or at least the state of South Carolina together, let me extend my admiration to some of our more persistent legislators.  Regardless of how many of us are living below the minimum wage, how many children go hungry, how many pregnant women have inadequate heath care, how many of us are killed by guns and die on bad roads, these admirable politicians always have time to dig up another anti-abortion bill.

And it doesn't matter whether the words make sense, or not.  They copy those bills right from the national playbook of organizations for which truth has no meaning, like the Life Education Council, that wants to keep facts from pregnant teens and women.  Or the National Right to Life Committee, whose website provides "information" on partial-birth abortion and fetal development.  Or the Pro-Life Action League, which "saves women" as well as "babies."  Not a single one of which organizations promotes better health and education for pregnant women, only the words to prevent them from making their own well-informed decision.

So kudos to Wendy Nanney, whose mission in life has been to force women to carry pregnancies to term after 20-weeks, under the misinformation that fetuses feel pain at twenty weeks.  The pain aspect doesn't seem to matter to Wendy when it comes to a woman having to give birth to a severely defective baby that dies minutes after birth, at enormous emotional cost.  And financial cost as well, because Wendy Nanney voted against the Affordable Care Act and is against the federal expansion of Medicaid.

Lee Bright may be a dull reflection of his name, but he stays up nights thinking about women and girls having sex and then getting abortions.  I'm not sure which of those images -- the sex or the abortion -- turns him on more, but we do know that he is obsessed with the topic.  He, as well as fellow obsessives Larry Grooms and Kevin Bryant, can always be counted on to send in another bill, even if it is exactly the same bill as one he submitted weeks or months earlier.  I imagine he gets so excited he forgets.

What we end up with is a stunning fifteen or more anti-abortion bills in our legislature for 2016.  The absurdly titled "Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act" continues to take up space this year, but we have new bills with excruciating titles.  There is the "dismemberment abortion" bill.  And the blood-curdling "Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women's Health Act".  The most recent insult is the "Women's Ultrasound Right to Know Act."  This in a state with high rates of death by guns, including that of children shooting themselves and others.  And in spite of a serious upswing in traffic fatalities as the price of gas goes down and people like Lee Bright refuse to raise the gas tax to repair roads and bridges.  A state that in 2014 ranked 41 in teen pregnancy, despite the national trend of lowered teen pregnancy -- hey, somebody's got to hold down the bottom, right?  And we can be sure that when Lee gets his way, the rate of infant mortality in South Carolina (currently the 14th highest in the nation), will go even higher.

But I would like to, again, look at the positive.  Anti-abortion advocates are ignorant and small-minded, misogynistic and -- have I said ignorant?  They may be all that, but they can focus.  And I believe that the rest of us (the silent majority) should take our cue from that.

Mia McLeod has introduced an important new bill that speaks volumes to the issue, which is an overabundance of bills focusing on women's bodies.  Her bill has caused some republicans to squeal, claiming that, unlike the thousands of bills that have invaded women's reproductive systems, it is a waste of time, "entertaining but kind of sad."  I take umbrage at that.  This is the legislature that has been investigating Planned Parenthood for a non-existent donor tissue program, and even though no state dollars fund Planned Parenthood.  So we would have to go a long way to find a bill that wastes more time than our esteemed republican legislators are willing to waste.

Mia's bill makes a great deal of sense, and could lead to less of a need for all those anti-abortion bills, saving the state lots of time and dollars.

First of all, it is important to make sure that, before taking such drugs, erectile dysfunction is not a psychosomatic problem, so the bill requires a referral to a sex therapist.  Just common sense.  Along with this, though, it will be important for the therapist to provide information about how erectile dysfunction drugs might lead to unwanted pregnancy.

Also, in order to protect the patient, the bill would require a cardiac stress test, which is critical in light of serious possible side effects, and necessary if our legislators indeed want to protect us from sexually caused problems, like heart attacks, oh, and pregnancy.  So it is obvious that along with the stress test, a physician would be required to notify the patient of all potential side effects.  I would also add a waiting period so the patient will have time to think about his responsibility when agreeing to take ED drugs.

Finally, the bill requires a notarized affidavit from at least one sexual partner stating that the patient has experienced erectile dysfunction in the last ninety days.  I believe, however, that the affidavit should also require that the partner state that having sex with the patient is agreeable to her.  After all, how many unwanted sex acts as well as unwanted pregnancies have been caused by men using erectile dysfunction drugs?

Our SC legislators know that, as important as the will of God is to us, it is a no-no for them to bring that up as a reason to pass a bill.  So what they do is bring in witnesses to testify that the bill is the will of God; for example, when the mother-and-daughter team testified that God had intervened to prevent mom from having that 20-week abortion, making it obvious that no other woman should have the right to one.

So let me take it upon myself to state the obvious.  Men should know that if God wanted them to have erections, He would have given them erections.  Erectile dysfunction is a message from God, just as our legislators contend is true of pregnancy.  We have no right to mess with God's intention to keep men from having sex by allowing them to have boner drugs.

The most important thing about this bill is that it should open an until-now closed floodgate.  Not only should all reasonable legislators in the House run to co-sponsor that bill, but there should be a version of that bill in the Senate.  With co-sponsors.

There should be dozens of bills in both House and Senate that truly protect women.  I'm talking about bills called the "Women's Medical Privacy Bill," and "Preventing Government Surveillance of Women Act."  The "Doctor-Patient Privacy Bill."  "Equal Rights for Medicaid Patients."  The "Keeping Government Out of the Doctor's Office Act."  "Government Interference in Medical Procedures Ban."

You get the idea.  So, legislators, we women are fighting for the right to the best medical treatment available, and for privacy in that treatment.  It is up to you to step up with Mia McLeod and get some bills introduced.

If it were Lee Bright, that's what he would do.  

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