Female legislators in Missouri present bill that restricting vasectomies
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Female legislators in Missouri present bill that restricting vasectomies

Date: April 2, 2012
By: Josie Butler
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 1853, HB 1541

JEFFERSON CITY - Women legislators joined the Missouri General Assembly's debate on contraception with a bill banning vasectomies unless there is a life threatening condition.

Under the bill, any person who performs or gets a vasectomy would be guilty of a felony. The measure would allow the procedure only to be performed in preventing death  or serious bodily harm.

The sponsor Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis County, said on her website this bill "would place the same government oversight to men that the Missouri legislature routinely places on women's private reproductive health decisions."

Newman said her bill is in response to an event on the House floor, in which her and several other female legislators were not allowed to speak in the three hour afternoon debate. House records, however, show that several women representatives were allowed to speak on the debate in the morning and one -- Rep. Jeanette Oxford, D-St. Louis City -- even offered an amendment.

The debate was over a House resolution in which the Missouri General Assembly declared opposition to President Barack Obama's contraception mandate.

Rep. Kathie Conway, R-St. Charles, said she believes this is just a jab at the House's position against Obama's mandate.

Newman said lawmakers have seen the restrictions on women's personal decisions become more invasive. She said she believes it is fair to place the same restrictions on reproductive decisions that have been placed on men to create equality.

Conway, however, said the bill would not do much to eliminate gender inequalities.

"I think it's not really very helpful," Conway said.  "We all understand there's inequalities, but there's also physiological inequalities between men and women."

Conway questioned some of the language in the bill, saying the term "necessary vasectomy" is subjective. She also questioned why Newman's bill implements a penalty, which would make performing or receiving a vasectomy a felony and require 1,040 hours of community service.

"The bill that was passed last week provided no penalties for providing services," Conway said. "(Last week's) bill had a penalty that is similar to abortion."

Rep. Brandon Ellington, D-Kansas City, asked whether the government should be passing laws restricting the procedures based on whether there's a religious affiliation or not. He said he believes it should be left up to private institutions and companies to decide whether the legislators should be passing laws to restrict people from these procedures.

"As this legislature has done for years, putting those same restrictions on procedures that are unique only to women, then we should be doing the very same thing to these procedures that are unique to men," Newman said. 

The bill was presented to the House Committee on Governmental Affairs on Monday but the committee did not taken any action.

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