Viagra Would Need Sex Therapist’s Approval Under Ohio Bill
By Mark Niquette
If women considering abortions must face government-mandated examinations, it’s only fair that men who want drugs such as Viagra to treat impotence get the same treatment, an Ohio (STOOH1) lawmaker says.
State Senator Nina Turner, a Cleveland Democrat, has introduced a bill to require that physicians take specific actions before prescribing such drugs, including giving a cardiac stress test and making a referral to a sex therapist for confirmation that “the patient’s symptoms are not solely attributable to one or more psychological conditions.”
“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 said in a telephone interview.
Her bill takes its place alongside similar efforts by Democratic lawmakers in states including Virginia (STOVA1), Georgia (STOGA1) and Missouri (STOMO1) in response to moves by Republican-controlled legislatures to limit abortions or oppose a federal requirement to include contraceptives in health-care plans.
A bill in Missouri would allow vasectomies only to protect a man from serious injury or death, according to the Associated Press, and in Virginia, which passed a bill requiring women to get an ultrasound before an abortion, state Senator Janet Howell sought an amendment requiring doctors to perform a rectal exam and stress test before prescribing erectile-dysfunction drugs.
For the Gander
“I think we should just have a little gender equity here,” Howell testified in January, according to a video posted on her YouTube channel.
Medications such as Viagra, manufactured by Pfizer Inc. (PFE), the world’s largest drugmaker, increase blood flow to the penis. Side effects can include headaches, blue-tinted vision and long- lasting and painful erections, according to the Viagra website.
Turner, 44, said she modeled her Ohio bill in response to a measure in the Republican-dominated Legislature that would prohibit doctors from performing an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The legislation passed the Ohio House last year, and Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus has said he will resume hearings on it after yesterday’s primary.
The Turner bill mimics provisions of the so-called heartbeat bill, including requiring a doctor to place medical records about prescriptions for erectile dysfunction in a patient’s file and keep them for at least seven years.
“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,” Turner said. “We should be equal opportunity in that.”
The legislation will be assigned to a committee, and it will be up to the chairman to decide when it is considered, said Angela Meleca, a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans. Senate leaders have not yet reviewed the measure can’t comment on its status, Meleca said.
Peter O’Toole, a Pfizer spokesman, said by phone that the company doesn’t comment on specific legislation.
Turner said she is serious about passing her bill, pointing to the drugs’ potential side effects. It’s also telling that legislation about women’s reproductive health is common and measures about men’s health aren’t, Turner said.
“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, some of us have found leisure time to deal with reproductive health -- and not deal with it in a very productive manner,” she said.
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