Seriously. If you live in Ohio and have a need for Viagra or some other impotence pill, a newly introduced bill would require your doctor to first conduct a cardiac stress test, refer you to a sex therapist for a written report on why you need the drug and - get this - obtain a notarized affidavit from at least one sex partner certifying you had trouble standing at attention during the past 90 days.
Imagine the look on the notary’s face? Anyway, the idea is that the need for the drug should be based on a legitimate physical reason. The bill (which you can read here) was introduced by State Senator Nina Turner, a Cleveland Democrat, as a form of pay back. How so? The Ohio legislature, which is dominated by Republicans, introduced a bill that would limit abortions or oppose a federal requirement to include contraceptives in health care coverage. That bill passed the House last year and Senate hearings may soon be scheduled.
“We want to make sure that men, vulnerable, fragile men, who are not capable of making decisions for themselves, understand all of the side effects and the implications of these types of drugs,” Turner tells Bloomberg News. “If we are going to be in the business, as policy makers, of regulating sexual health or medical health, then we should do it across the board. We should be equal opportunity in that.”
However, Turner is not the only one seeking parity. A bill in Missouri would allow vasectomies only to protect a man from serious injury or death, Bloomberg notes. In Virginia, state Senator Janet Howell reacted to a bill that requires women to get an ultrasound before an abortion with an amendment requiring doctors to perform a rectal exam and stress test before prescribing impotence pills.
“This is a matter of basic fairness,” Howell recently told the Virginia legislature as she offered her explanation. “It’s only fair. If we’re going to subject women to unnecessary procedures and we’re going to subject doctors to having to do things that they don’t think is medically advisable, I think we should just have a little gender equity here.”
Both women were prompted to propose mandates for prescribing impotence pills after noticing the long list of potentially troublesome side effects. Yet, Turner noted that women’s health is more often the subject of legislation. “Instead of focusing in on the crisis that we’re still trying to dig ourselves out of as a country related to the fiscal crisis of 2008,” she tells Bloomberg, “some of us have found leisure time to deal with reproductive health - and not deal with it in a very productive manner.”
Of course, the legislation reflects the ongoing debate over coverage for women’s health, a perenially hot topic that has grown still more heated in this election year. Consider the White House plan for health insurers to cover the cost of providing free birth control to employees of religious groups as part of the Affordable Care Act, which requires health insurance plans to offer contraception without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or deductible.
To some, a requirement that men to pass such hurdles before obtaining a prescription for erectile dysfunction drugs may, perhaps, seem unnecessary, at best. On the other hand, there are also concerns about legitimate health needs and prescription drug costs to consider, depending upon coverage for the meds. So does Turner have a point? What do you think?