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Janet Howell, Virginia State Senator, Attaches Rectal Exam Amendment To Anti-Abortion Bill

Mandatory Ultrasound

First Posted: 01/30/2012 5:35 pm Updated: 01/30/2012 5:39 pm

To protest a bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion, Virginia State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) on Monday attached an amendment that would require men to have a rectal exam and a cardiac stress test before obtaining a prescription for erectile dysfunction medication.

"We need some gender equity here," she told HuffPost. "The Virginia senate is about to pass a bill that will require a woman to have totally unnecessary medical procedure at their cost and inconvenience. If we're going to do that to women, why not do that to men?"

The Republican-controlled senate narrowly rejected the amendment Monday by a vote of 21 to 19, but passed the mandatory ultrasound bill in a voice vote. A similar bill in Texas, which physicians say has caused a "bureaucratic nightmare," is currently being challenged in court.

Howell said she is not surprised her amendment failed.

"This is more of a message type of an amendment, so I was pleased to get 19 votes," she said.

She pointed out that there are only seven women in the Virginia senate, and six of them voted in favor of her amendment, along with 13 male senators. Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier County), the sponsor of the mandatory ultrasound bill, voted against it.

“I do believe that erectile dysfunction in this context is different from pregnancy,” she said on the senate floor.

The Senate will formally vote on the mandatory ultrasound bill on Tuesday.

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