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. Toby

    I would vote for this I think this is a great idea to level the terms we will control each other from making choices sounds good to me

    February 23, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joy

    After having a baby at the , then older age of 37, my husband and I decided we could not safely not have another child,. Because the surgical procedure of having my tubes tied was much more expensive and much more complicated, and therefore more dangerous, he chose to have a vasectomy. He recovered quickly and we never had to ever consider anything as serious as a possible abortion.. It is a PERSONAL choice. No one can or should be able to regulate morality. It did not work with Prohibition and it will not work now. Again these decisions are personal. I think birth control methods such as vasectomy keep abortions from taking place . I cannot imagine where we are going in this country if someone even wants to put this idea forward! SCARY!

    February 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      The bill was proposed as a way of pointing out that is just as wrong headed to legislate control over women's bodies as it would be to legislate control over men's. Men and women are equally capable of deciding for themselves. Laws governing women's bodies are as ridiculous as this bill. I guarantee the person proposing it did so knowing it would never pass but that it might serve as a teaching tool.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Regina

    Rep. Yasmin Neal, you are my hero! Thank you so much for challenging the stodgy old misogynist GOP. There is hope that the American Taliban (religious conservatives) will not prevail with their draconian measures to limit women's reproductive rights. Thank you for your courage and your humor!

    February 23, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • mememe

      no one is taking your reproductive rights away no one ever will. why are we still having an abortion, my body, my reproductive rights debate. if you want an abortion why would it take you over 20 weeks to decide.

      February 24, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. Annaliesa

    I will begin this by saying I am not going to give my opinion on whether or not abortions at any term should be legal or illegal. I would just like to provide some food for thought.

    Women have been having abortions for as long as they figured out how to do so. Pennyroyal, mercury, and the ubiquitous inserting something metal into the uterus. Women died because of these things. They poisoned themselves and bled to death.

    Mental disorders are detrimental to the fetus. Maternal stress has been implicated with the spontaneous miscarriage of male embryos. High cortisol rates may increase the risk of mental disorders in children. Severe depression has led to suicide attempts in pregnant women at the worst, and a lack of self-care at the best. Women, at the discouragement of medical professionals who are uninformed on psychotropic medications that have a low-risk of birth defects, refuse medication to treat their psychiatric issues. Ill-managed mood and psychotic disorders have been implicated in postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, which are risk factors for infanticide, neglect, and abuse.

    We kill constantly. We kill animals for food, we execute prisoners for crimes, and we engage in warfare. We kill because of the impact of death – we need to eat, and we need to protect society. A woman has family and friends, and possibly other children. The impact of her death affects a number of people. The death of a fetus, who has no social connections, affects the parents. No one relies on the fetus for safety. No one relies on the fetus to contribute to society.

    I am not trying to trivialize life. I am a parent who was told my genetic screening came up positive for Down Syndrome, and I opted against amniocentesis because I did not want to terminate the pregnancy. I value children very much.

    The point I am making is that this is not a simple, black and white issue. If one is to argue that abortion is wrong because it is murder, why do we execute prisoners? Why do we go to war? If we believe God is the only one who is allowed to judge, why do we decide whose life is more valuable than another? Is the murder of a prisoner really the way to protect society when we can lock them away for life – is it an act of vengeance? Is war at times an act of vengeance? Is this right? More importantly, is this logical? Vengeance does not undo the atrocity committed. It does not take the sadness away. Is taking a life ever noble?

    Again, I am not trying to take a stance on this issue. I merely wanted to point out the complexity of it.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      Thank you for this thoughtful and thought provoking post.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allen

      Thought provoking, indeed. Thank you for taking the time to post.

      February 24, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • JD

      you need slapped up side your head just like Yasmin does.....if only woman were born with no vocal cords....what a better place this would be! 🙂

      February 24, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Sue

      @JD –
      Shut. Up.

      February 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • DoubleW

      Thank you, JD, for so clearly demonstrating the mental straitjacket of the anti-abortion crowd.

      February 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. angryoldguy

    To Annaliesa, thank you for bringing a note of sanity to an otherwise insane "discussion"! I just wish we had legislators who actually thought about things as you obviously have taken the time to do instead of just jumping on a bandwagon or operating from a "knee-jerk" point of view. Thank you for contributing something to the otherwise useless name-calling sessions these responses become.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JonB

    I'm afraid the congresswoman's cleverness is lost on me. It seems like the intention of the bill is to make an analogy between the contraceptive rights of women and of men, but it's proposed in direct response to an abortion bill. Are contraception and abortion synonyms to this congresswoman?

    February 23, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      The catholic church also opposed vasectomies. I guess this aspect of the war by religious fanatics against Americans has been ignored because the bishops haven't pushed it. Be interesting to see how the pedophiles in the church would fare if they propose permitting employers not to cover vasectomies

      February 24, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      JonB, I thought the same thing. Abortion and contraception are not the same, and none of the women I know consider them to be the same. Science has shown us that unfertilized cells do not take on any of the characteristics that we currently identify with life, so to equate the two is preposterous on its face, and just muddies the water. Regardless of your stance on this issue, it boils down to a debate over when or if a fetus is granted the same legal rights as a full term infant. No more or less. If at some point- 20 weeks or 26 weeks- the fetus is granted those human rights, then the discussion is not about the woman's body, it is about the fetus' body. If they are not granted these human rights, then the woman should be free to obtain whatever procedure she sees fit. A blessing and curse of the female gender is that these two bodies are inexorably connected during gestation. But how we handle reproductive issues and human rights issues are critical to the development of our society, and these discussions must be held and they are not the province of any single gender.

      February 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tex Gritter

      Joe, THAT was thought-provoking. Thank you, Sir.

      February 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinks2010

      Great post Joe.

      February 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Scott

    Great idea. I mean, if repressed southern legislators can override doctors and declare a fertilized egg human life, I say why stop there?? Let's legislate that all sperm are human lives and punish their destruction like murder! Like a 3-day old zygote, they can't survive on their own, but they're designed to be potential people! I hereby declare my God declares sperm destruction is murder, so it is for everyone! Allah Akbar!

    February 23, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • mommytwice

      I will further ask, then why aren't they yelling over condoms? Masturbation? Menstruation? All of these things prevent a potential meeting of sperm and egg. Should we give pills to women to make them stop menstruating so that the eggs are no longer flushed away with each period? ban production of condoms? Install cameras in every room of every house to control masturbation, because those sperm could have sired a child? The madness over what others do with their bodies needs to stop. Abortion, contraception, all of's NO ONE'S BUSINESS but the patient and the doctor.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RSL

    At what week is it no longer a matter of a woman's choice regarding her body? 24 weeks? 32 weeks? 2 days or 2 hours before 9 months so long as the baby is still in the womb? And if the latter, then what's the difference in just waiting until the baby is born to terminate its life? Ridiculous. I'm pro-choice, but differ with some on when the choice is made. Except for non-consensual sex (or other similar circumstances), the 'choice' is made when having sex without adequate protection. A drunk driver doesn't 'choose' to undo taking someone's life after they kill them, they choose the consequence as soon as they get behind the wheel drunk.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. blue

    using some of the info provided here it would appear that masturbation is the direct cause of death for millions of "unborn children: ergo, masturbation equals murder... hang em high and hang em dry.. get the gov out of my undies...

    February 24, 2012 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. dondondon

    this one is actually a bit more suited to the current "controversy" over birth contraceptives, and particularly about the proposed mandatory ultrsound testing proposed by the right to lifers. Perhaps it would be enough for the men to have to watch videos of happy children playing in the fields with their happy fathers and also have a probe inserted to make sure they actually have viable sperm - why waste the big insurance co,s money if the guy is already sterile after all ?

    February 24, 2012 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  11. dondondon

    this one is actually more suited to the current "controversy" over birth contraceptives, and particularly about the proposed mandatory ultrsound testing proposed by the right to lifers. Perhaps it would be enough for the men to have to watch videos of happy children playing in the fields with their happy fathers and also have a probe inserted to make sure they actually have viable sperm - why waste the big insurance co,s money if the guy is already sterile after all ?

    February 24, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • JD

      aahh....a man usually gets a vasectomy after he has fathered a child. Do some research guy!

      February 24, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  12. CRN

    Men and women should have the right to choose, stay out of our personal business and worry about the budget.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dot

    I cannot believe men actually still believe they have the right to control women in the United States. We need more women in government and in positions of power in religions. Then, maybe, women can make a decision on what is best for them. I am sure they would seek the best advice and make their decision from there.
    Otherwise we will have to treat men and women the same. We will have to deny any healthcare for reproductive organs for both men and women.

    February 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • jr

      Easy there, Dot. I am a man, and I am on YOUR side. Don't forget that there are MANY MANY women on the other side, eager to take human rights away from their sisters in the name of FICTION (ie. the bible). It is almost unfathomable to me to see women so eager to turn over control of their reproductive health to old white men. But they exist IN DROVES.

      February 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane

      Most religions view women as inferior to men. Men make the rules for Catholics, Jews and Muslims. Men use "the word of God" (really the words of men), to control women.

      February 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mary

    As someone who has had an abortion, I would like to respond to some of the people on this board. My son was diagnosed prenatally with an incurable, devastating medical issue. He was planned, wanted and loved. Because of the love I felt for him, I could not sentence him to a life of medical intervention and suffering. I made the decision to terminate the pregnancy. I would have done whatever it took to free him from a life filled with pain and robbed of joy. How could any of you feel you have the right to force someone else to suffer due to your religious convictions? How could you want that for your child?

    February 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • jr

      Thank you for your honesty and bravery. I am so sorry for your losses. Both the loss of your fetus and the loss of the imagined child you had longed and hoped for. You are living proof that abortion decisions are not some momentary "throw-away" decisions made by uncaring women. They are earth-shaking, heart-wrenching and extremely difficult decisions made by women and those who love them. And they are never forgotten.
      No legislation is going to make those decisions easy for women. But legislation that takes that difficult decision out of the mother's hands is going to cause more pain and heartache and hopelessness.
      We have a nation full of children living in poverty and chaos. Where the heck are the self-righteous when it comes to those ACTUAL CHILDREN???????

      February 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane

      Thank you for your honesty. I can see that you are compassionate. You made a decision that was right for you and your child.

      February 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Focus on the budget you tool!

    "Georgia Democrats propose limitations on vasectomies for men"

    Well, just how many vasectomies does each man need??? Just one was enough for me!

    February 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane

      If women aren't allowed to plan their families, and choose when and if to have children, then men should not be allowed to choose either.

      According to the Catholic church, you are an evil person who will go to hell for having a vasectomy.

      February 24, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
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