Georgia Democrats propose limitations on vasectomies for men
State Rep. Yasmin Neal's bill comes in response to an abortion-restrictions bill that Georgia legislators are considering.
February 21st, 2012
06:23 PM ET

Georgia Democrats propose limitations on vasectomies for men

As members of Georgia’s House of Representatives debate whether to prohibit abortions for women more than 20 weeks pregnant, House Democrats  introduced their own reproductive rights plan: No more vasectomies that leave "thousands of children ... deprived of birth."

Rep. Yasmin Neal, a Democrat from the Atlanta suburb of Jonesboro, planned on Wednesday to introduce HB 1116, which would prevent men from vasectomies unless needed to avert serious injury or death.

The bill reads: "It is patently unfair that men avoid the rewards of unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly. ... It is the purpose of the General Assembly to assert an invasive state interest in the reproductive habits of men in this state and substitute the will of the government over the will of adult men."

“If we legislate women’s bodies, it’s only fair that we legislate men’s,” said Neal, who said she wanted to write bill that would generate emotion and conversation the way anti-abortion bills do. “There are too many problems in the state. Why are you under the skirts of women? I’m sure there are other places to be."

Personally, Neal said, she has no qualms with vasectomies.

“But even if it were proposed as a serious issue,” she said, “it’s still not my place as a woman to tell a man what to do with his body."

The anti-vasectomy bill was a response to a bill that would punish abortions performed after the 20th week of pregnancy with prison sentences between one and 10 years. Georgia law currently prohibits abortion after the second trimester, except to preserve the life and health of the mother. Neal's bill borrows some language directly from the anti-abortion bill.

The anti-abortion bill makes exceptions to avert death or “serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function” of the mother, but doesn’t include “diagnosis or claim of a mental or emotional condition.” If an abortion occurs after the 20th week, the bill requires doctors to attempt to deliver a living baby.

Earlier discussions about the bill have been “outstanding,” said Rep. Doug McKillip, a Republican from Athens, Georgia, who introduced the anti-abortion bill this month. He said legislators are “drilling down" on questions about when a fetus can feel pain and what exceptions can allow abortions later in pregnancy, and he expects more testimony late this week.

“I’m just disappointed in my colleague, that they would take this opportunity to make light of a very important topic,” McKillip said. “I believe this is a serious topic deserving of serious debate. It feels like a poor attempt at humor.”

Neal said she's serious about making legislators recognize women's rights to make private decisions about their bodies.

"I hope that through the madness this has caused, it gets him to understand where the woman is coming from," she said. "There are a number of women in other states trying the same ploys we’re trying here."

Earlier this month, Democratic Oklahoma Sen. Constance Johnson added then withdrew a provision to an anti-abortion bill that read "any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman's vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child." The state Senate passed the bill this month.

In January, as the Virginia state Senate debated a bill that required women to have an ultrasound before an abortion, Democrat Janet Howell attached an amendment that required men to have rectal exams and cardiac stress tests before they could receive prescriptions for erectile dysfunction medication like Viagra. The amendment was rejected in the Senate, 21-19.

CNN affiliate WAVY reported that hundreds gathered this week to protest the ultrasound bill,  which is up for a vote in Virginia's House of Delegates, and another that says life begins at conception.

On the Georgia House floor, Neal doesn't anticipate her anti-vasectomy bill will generate much serious debate.

"If it moves anywhere," she said, "that’ll be a very interesting day."

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Filed under: Abortion • Georgia • Health • Politics
soundoff (1,943 Responses)
  1. Ishmael

    I tin it's great, and only fair, what Rep. Yasmin Neal is proposing; she raises a very powerful concept. It's time that men have to stop, think. and put themselves into the body of a woman. Reading this article, and some of the responses, as well as that another law has been proposed to declare that human life begins at conception, a thought occurred to me. But first let me point out that God has not specifically, definitively, told humans, at which point human life actually begins. To make the belief of some, but certainly not all people, into a law would in essence unconstitutionally shove the religious beliefs of some onto all citizens, thus depriving them of their religious freedom, and violating the constitution that states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

    For those who believe or INTERPRET the Bible as indicating human life begins at conception, take a look at the words telling of God's creation of Adam. "God breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living soul." I propose that you examine & ponder this statement very objectively; put aside your preconceived beliefs and look at the actual words. It appears VERY obvious that this Bible passage tells us that human life does not begin until, and certainly has no soul, until the human breathes on her/his own.

    And as you think about this, and prepare to excuse yourself from these words, think very hard as you eat your next shrimp or clams, your next cheese burger or beef in cream sauce, as you are about to put a forkful of pork into your mouth, when you make love during a woman's period; and when you go to church with no animal to kill and burn on the altar and do not sprinkle its blood round about upon the altar. Yes, you'd better run to your town halls and repeal your laws that ban burning in the town/city limits and open flame inside buildings, for they are contrary to the dictations in the Bible, actual words from the mouth of God.

    Once you have pondered this – SERIOUSLY, not just writing a quick quip here as a knee-jerk response to my challenge, then YOU live by what YOU decide, NOT what your clergy tells you; DO NOT try to dictate to your neighbor, the stranger on the other side of town, in another city, another state, or across the country, or force them to live by YOUR belief by demanding that our government create a theocracy in the USA according to YOUR personal beliefs, for it may not be their belief, because I remind you, the constitution of the United States of America states, " "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
    Oh, and if YOU don't believe in abortion, than YOU don't get one.

    February 23, 2012 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jess

    Right, I know I will probably have a lot of mud flung at me for this, but it really gets my hackles up seeing people defend their pro-life position with such broad-sweeping statements as "You're killing a living thing, it's MURDER!" Really? What about the animals that are killed every day for food? What about the lice on your child's head that you just doused with chemicals? What about the bacteria living in your infected paper cut that you're taking antibiotics to get rid of? What about the millions of bacteria your own cells kill every day? Those are all living things that need food, a safe place to live and have their own survival instincts. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a PETA member or anything like that, I'm a veterinarian who eats meat, kills lice, fights bacteria and sleeps very well at night. What people seem to want is to establish WHICH living organisms are worth saving and which ones aren't, which is entirely a matter of perspective. To some, when the egg and sperm join to form a zygote, they immediately place the title of "living thing" on that growing pile of cells. I hate to break it to you, but the closest equivalent to the fetus (even at 20 weeks) is a parasite. Yep, you read right, that little bundle of life is on appoximately the same level as a tapeworm. It lives within a host and takes from it all of the nutritional and life-sustaining support it requires, and would be entirely incapable of surviving outside the host. Now this doesn't make the fetus any LESS of a living thing, as I said before even worms are living things, but why do we get to decide what parasites a person has to live with and which ones they can treat? In this, I think people focus on the POTENTIAL of the living thing, which is also a great matter of perspective. To some, that parasite will grow into a lovely human being that could some day save the world from AIDS/cancer/etc. In reality, that parasite could grow up to be a drain on society, a murderer, a rapist, or any other manner of unsavory individual that most people would agree are far worse than your average tapeworm. So feel free to call me a heartless wretch for comparing an unborn fetus to a parasite if you must, I just wish people would give some thought to WHY they truly stand on either side of this argument and produce better arguments than "You're killing a living thing, so you're evil", because guess what, we all kill living things every single day, does that make us all evil?

    February 23, 2012 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Jess, of course you are right. This should be clear to anyone with a high school level of competence in biology (in math, that is about 5% of the population – really – just Google NALS to see the national survey). As you noted, though your position is consistent and logical, it does not preclude a consistent and logical rebuttal. Why is there an absence of these informed counter arguments? First, this level of argument requires a certain command of the subject matter – in this case biology. As a vet, you are already in the top 1% of folks in terms of understanding biology. Second, most people see this as a moral issue where rationality has no foothold. Moral reasoning proceeds from pictures in the mind and the slogans that accompany them. If I were to picture the Gerber baby shredded and tossed into a garbage bin, I would be on the front lines of the pro life movement. Until that image is removed from the core of the argument, I am impervious to any counter argument. There simply is no argument for killing laughing little babies during the second half of their first year. I do not imagine a zygote as a little homunculus in the womb – a tiny little Gerber baby waiting to be born, dreaming of the life to come with excited anticipation. That takes an additional 18 months. I can imagine a woman engaged in what humans do – loving, living, planning and dreaming. The picture at the center of my moral argument is a young woman in a stage of her life where the requirements of parenthood would derail her dreams. I can also imagine a young woman who knows she is unprepared to offer a secure and healthy space for a child. I would grant this imagined woman the most basic of human rights – agency. She has a say in her life. She has the right to make fundamental decisions about the conditions of her life. I think she has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as she sees it. The point is simply that we make moral decisions on these pictures. Biological fact does not change these pictures.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. Amy

    Well then. Nice to see Georgia's legislators wasting time and money on frivolous bills instead of dealing with the real issues.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Obozo MUST be Defeated!

      It goes to show people how stupid some elected officials are. I'll bet most of them are lefty-loons, too.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:33 am | Report abuse |
    • JAC

      I don't believe this to be frivolous and perhaps you shouldn't either. I don't know about you, but I refuse to sit quietly by while some man tells me what I can or cannot do with my body while they (men) are allowed to do whatever they want with theirs. Yes, while Ms. Neal's bill seems silly, she is trying to make the point that you can't dictate what women can or cannot do with their bodies unless you are willing to do the same for your own gender. And before someone labels me as pro-abortion, I'm not but I AM for a woman's right to decide on her own, with the help of her family and the unborn child's father. I don't feel that someone who has never met the woman, much less talked with her about abortion, should have the right to say that the woman can or can't have an abortion if that is what she decides to do.
      Perhaps you might feel this was more serous if it was decided that once again women aren't able to vote or to have a job that has been traditionally one held by a man, or that you were not allowed to be paid the same wage as a man doing the same job. I

      February 23, 2012 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
    • TheRealDoris

      I agree with JAC – I and I alone will make decisions about my body. I applaud those female legislators for trying to make that point to their male colleagues, who obviously have no other point of comparison. I say put the onus on them – a 'morning before' pill if men are so concerned. Reproductive responsibility has always been foisted on women while simultaneously legislating their decisions. I AM NOT a broodmare and I'm damn tired of talking about it!

      February 23, 2012 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott NJ

      @Jac: i fail to see how an unborn fetus is simply "a woman's body". when you don't acknowledge that life begins before birth then youre simply looking for a free pass. a Get out of Jail Free card to avoid completing the pregnancy and birthing a an unwanted child. You may not want a child, but it has the Natural Right to Life as every human does. This Natural Right is so fundamental to human nature that it supersedes all personal liberties of the mother except when her Right to Life is in danger.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      @ Scott NJ
      Except…you’re wrong. A fetus isn’t a person and has no rights. (look it up) I’m sorry you disagree with this but your opinion in the light of the fact is irrelevant. Maybe it’s not others that are looking for a ‘free-get out of jail’ card but instead it is you looking for a ‘do what I think you should do even if it is none of my business” card that the republicans and religious types are so fond of.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. jim

    This is a load of crap! These bozos are arguing apples and fish. Are they so stupid that they cannot see the difference between a vasectomy and an abortion? If it was comparing vasectomies and oral contraceptives, they would have a case, but the moral implications of terminating a pregnancy are vastly different from a vasectomy.

    While I actually do support a woman's choice in this, the real issue is when our society considers life to begin. If at conception, then the question is why isn't an abortion considered killing a person? If we define it as the moment when the fetus can survive on it's own, there are different consideration. If we define that life starts at birth, it is moral to terminate a pregnancy the day before the calculated due date? These questions are vital to the discussion, yet do not even apply to a vasectomy.

    These idiots have made a mockery of the entire issue.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      That is exactly the point, Jim.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      This isn’t a direct comparison and wasn’t intended to be. What is stupid is SOME people don’t see that.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  5. frogs

    Do Christian-affiliated hospitals allow Viagra?

    February 23, 2012 at 4:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Hello

      I think viagra is the driving force of the increase in zex trafficking, child abuse and rape.
      All criminals who are caught in such crimes need to be tested for ED drugs and if they have used it, that should be reported. ED drugs can be found in sem on. Its presents is important factor in assault cases. along with other drugs.
      Its use could prove the criminal had willful intent to commit the crime.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      @Frogs
      Yes they do.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. Seriously?

    There are only a few states in the first place that allow Late Term or Partial Birth abortions anyway. Most states will not allow abortion past 13 weeks. I think abortions before 13 weeks are fine and a mothers personal choice. However most of this could be completely avoided if women would. Use condoms, and take birth control. Aborting a fetus at 20 weeks is fairly disgusting. Firstly it isn't the same process at all. They inject saline water into the uterus, when the fetus breathes in the amniotic fluid now mixed with saline it burns the lungs and the baby suffocates to death. The woman is then induced and gives birth to a stillborn. If the baby is born still alive the common practice is to suffocate it until life ceases. How anyone, woman or man could be ok with blatant murder such as this is truly beyond me. If a woman chooses to go to 5 months pregnant then going another 4 and giving the child up for adoption is no more dangerous to her then giving birth to a dead baby. Its called birth control ladies. Pill, Patch, Shot, Condoms. Spermicide, Plan B,sponges,diaphrams,IUD,tubal ligation..With so many choices it is amazing that unwanted pregnancy is still such an issue. Abortion should be legal and a womans choice up to 13 weeks....After that no. Oh and the arguement that fetuses are not aware? Absolute bullshit. Several studies have shown that by 5 months pregnant the baby already feels pain, responds excitedly to familiar voices and enters a state of dreaming. By 6 months They are even crying, playing, and engaging in preparation and learning activities in anticipation of birth. When a full term fetus is born it recognizes the sounds of its mothers voice, fathers voice, it recognizes the exact beat of its own mothers heart and her smell. Unaware, Unconcious beings would be incapable of these things. It is nice and cozy to convince yourself they dont have any thoughts or feelings, it simply is not backed up by science though.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. Abdurrahman.

    ..It all starts with illegal sex.. Then children out of marriage.. Then death of the Child.. I wonder when we talk of "human rights" the child whos death is taken just when his life begins in his mothers womb, is not included in.. Such people surely don't deserve parenthood.. Children are a blessing.. The soothing of ones eyes.. How many innocent will we kill for our own evil desires??

    February 23, 2012 at 5:02 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jason

    Clearly we don't have the technology to fully understand when something is actually alive and sentient. Understanding that, we cannot pass a judgment that says a fetus is alive or not alive. It could be as alive as a skin cell, or alive as you and I. But its status can't be confirmed or denied, so we must argue on different terms.

    Any folk out there do philosophy? Ever heard of the Violinist situation? Well, it goes like this: you wake up one morning, in a hospital. You roll over to see that a woman is attached to you. She is a famous violinist and and died. However, she was revived and the state randomly picked you (kinda like how people are randomly raped or the condom randomly breaks) as a support for her. You must stay attached to this woman for nine months, and after that you can detach but you must still care for her until she is deemed fit by the state to live independently.

    Would you sever your connection with her, killing her? Some would (perhaps with a righteous attitude) say "of course not!" And others might say (perhaps in hopes of defending pro-choice) that they would.

    But wait! What's this? The fundamental issue is whether or not you would. You could save their life and perhaps be applauded, or decide not to and be criticized. But would praise come from obligation? No, of course not! If I were forced to save the violinist, the most praise I would get is that I was brave about it and endured the whole thing. But maybe I was going to do something great. Maybe I was about to cure cancer. I had everything prepared, I was going to do some important tests today, but instead I have this weight on my shoulders that I am forced to deal with. Also pretty unfair, right?

    I guess, what it truly comes down to, is that we all have different morals. And if your morals aren't the same as mine, you might criticize me for having an abortion. Or you might not care at all that I did. But as far as YOU go, the worst thing that has happened was your being offended. The worst thing that happened to ME was that I have a possible guilt I must deal with.

    I'm not ignorant and I'm not about to make a statement about how the fetus may have done great things, because I know nothing of the future. I know that most humans go on to do nothing, and most people I know seem to have suffered more in life than anything else, so if I even were to make that argument, I would have to forget that there is suffering in the world and I saved the fetus from it.

    To drive my point home, it really seems strange to me that we think a fetus will grow to be a great person in a world where various other fetuses have been forced to be born, suffer, and die. I'm about to invoke some rights of mysterious origin here- the fetus has the right to not live in a world like this; surrounded by so many people who are unhappy, and just by people in general. There are A LOT of people. Too many people. I don't see the need for more. Reading most of these comments makes me feel like we should have the opposite of this anti-vasectomy act anyway.

    I'm not about to pollute the Earth with my own spawn. Especially since my family has some genes I find responsible to not pass down. I plan on adopting a poor kid that had the misfortune of being born into a world that sucks, if I want to have a kid. But that's my own opinion. My own morals. My own decision. I'm not going to go out and post essays on the door of every asylum and special ed class addressing my grievances with letting people with bad genes reproduce. They can do whatever the hell they want. And that, if anything, would be even more pressing than this abortion topic; they're bringing more issues into the world (of course I'm not absolute about this, NOR DO I CARE WHAT THEY DO), instead of avoiding them. Let the living fix the problems of the living world. Let the fetuses design furnishings and philosophies for living in a uterus. We live in separate worlds; let's work separately.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. SixDegrees

    While I'm deeply opposed to the abortion restrictions being proposed in this case, I don't see how introducing a frivolous joke of a bill does anything to move things in the right direction. Rather than wasting the legislature's time and resources, how about doing the right thing and building enough of a majority to ensure that the abortion restrictions don't pass in the first place? Stunts like this only make it seem that the opposition is made up of 8th graders, snickering into their hands rather than confronting the issue directly.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. Martin

    Wow people. I don't care which side you're on. This "act" doesn't even make sense of followed with just a little bit of logic. A vasectomy for males is what getting tube tied for females (not abortion). So if the argument is whether women should be allowed to get her tubes tied then throw out the vasectomy card. But when the issue is the unborn baby, embryo, fetus, whatever you wish to call it, and not how to prevent pregnancy, this argument is beyond illogical.
    Be educated and argue with some sense!

    February 23, 2012 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. Randy

    Wow. Sperm doesnt have fingers,toes,eyes, and a cute little face. So sad that we as a society have lowered ourselves to killing our unborn. So glad I married a woman that wouldnt think of killing the child in her. Having said that, abortion will never be made illegal in this country.

    It would help those who get so angry about this to know that the baby goes right into glory and there is forgiveness for any woman that sins in this way.

    However I would not want to be the person that stands up for abortion with passion and mocks God and His word. You are taking the wrong side of the battle. I have read the end of the BOOK...Your side loses.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
    • James

      "Wow. Sperm doesnt have fingers,toes,eyes, and a cute little face." So you'd be all for abortion if the said baby was dreadfully ugly?
      (Not like I would mind, heh)

      February 23, 2012 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
  12. Noah yibey

    Dont compare punishing with killing babies 4 no reason.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. ShoeOnOtherFoot

    Doesn't matter what side of the choice/life debate one is on... the point of this legislation was to cause people to experiment with what it might be like to see the issue from the other side. Based on the comments so far it has succeeded in doing so. Are we all Hippocrates? Because now that MY body is threatened (as a male), ohhh my... no way is the government, or someone else going to tell ME what to do with MY body.... But instead of facing this question and dealing with what that might mean for "us", instead we shifting the focus of our dialogue on to other things by just getting angry and picking apart the "other" side? The question/idea here is not really about life or choice... its about stepping out of our own perspective and experiencing, even if just for a fleeting moment, what it might be like if it were ME and MY body, and MY ability to reproduce up for a debate by someone else's value system. How would you feel if anyone attempted to legislate your body, mind, choice, and freedom.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
  14. sean

    Abortions should be legal upto 13years... Also, any decision should be upto the individule alone, gov't should run the country, not it's people

    February 23, 2012 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
    • soulcatcher

      You have a 13 year-old you'd like to abort?

      February 23, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  15. JS

    Typical four-year-old response from this legislator...probably a Democrat.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
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