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Kelly Cassidy's Viagra Amendment: Illinois Lawmaker Fights Anti-Abortion Measure

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Illinois Rep. Kelly Cassidy (right) reportedly plans to introduce a measure requiring those seeking Viagra for erectile dysfunction to watch a video about the drug's side effects. The move comes after a House Agriculture Committee pushed through two bills that seek to limit abortion access in Illinois.
Illinois Rep. Kelly Cassidy (right) reportedly plans to introduce a measure requiring those seeking Viagra for erectile dysfunction to watch a video about the drug's side effects. The move comes after a House Agriculture Committee pushed through two bills that seek to limit abortion access in Illinois.

Several Illinois lawmakers expressed frustration last week when the Illinois House Agriculture Committee once again put women's health issues on their agenda -- and now one legislator is fighting back.

The committee, which is supposed to deal with livestock and farming issues, has a history of taking up controversial social issues as a way of pushing conservative policies to the floor. The committee has previously debated gambling, abortion and even state gun laws.

The agriculture group is now looking to amend the Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center Act to impose strict new regulations on women's health clinics that offer abortions. They also want to pass the Ultrasound Opportunity Act, which would require all Illinois women seeking abortions to view an ultrasound of the fetus, or sign a statement documenting reasons for refusing. The bill would not allow exceptions for any health circumstances.

Almost all of the lawmakers pushing for the abortion restrictions are Republican men, and lesbian Rep. Kelly Cassidy wants to make it clear that she does not stand with her agriculture committee counterparts on these issues. Cassidy reportedly told LGBT journalist Jamie Royce that she plans on introducing a measure that would require people seeking Viagra for erectile dysfunction to watch a video on potential side effects before receiving it.

“When the ultrasound bill was introduced, I talked about desire to put something in that was reciprocal,” Cassidy told Royce, according to Stuff Queer People Need To Know. “If we were to require informed consent for potential erectile dysfunction patients on the potential side effects and treatment of those side effects, it would be a reasonable balance.”

Cassidy added that the reason these bills pass through the agriculture committee is because it is "conservative enough to move the bills to the floor."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois calls the regulations "excessive and medically unnecessary" and will hold a "Women are not livestock" rally in Springfield on Tuesday -- when the Agriculture and Conservation Committee will hear the Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center Act amendment.

"House Bill 4117 (which we saw last year) creates a series of new, burdensome regulations, unrelated to protecting health, for facilities that perform abortions regulations that will cause many, if not most, of the Illinois’ abortion providers to shutter their facilities," the ACLU wrote on its website. "This is, of course, the aim of the anti-abortion zealots who propose this bill which will be heard in the Agriculture Committee (along with measures on tethering dogs and boat safety). The hearing of this bill in the Ag Committee insults all who care about women’s health."

Last year, the Better Government Association reported that seven bills had been sent through the Agriculture Committee that had nothing to do with farming or the environment, most of which dealt with controversial issues including gambling, abortion and even the state's hotly-debated concealed carry measure.

"While this is a completely legal tactic, and does not violate House Rules, it’s not a good government approach to passing laws," the BGA wrote. "Taxpayers rely on lawmakers to make good public policy decisions."

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