Listen to this audio report by Mike Lear, MissouriNet with Rep. Stacey Newman on her vasectomy bill.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX) - In response to previous contraception legislature, female legislators want to limit a man’s access to vasectomies by making it a felony to receive the procedure unless there is a life threatening condition.
According to the bill, any person who performs a vasectomy or any man permitting a vasectomy to be performed on him would be guilty of a felony. The bill also states that a vasectomy could only be performed to prevent the death of a man or prevent a serious bodily harm.
Bill 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 this 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. The debate was over a House resolution in which the Missouri General Assembly declared opposition to President Barack Obama’s contraception mandate.
She said this bill was also in response to a bill sponsored by Rep. Tim Jones, R-Eureka, that passed last week in the House. Jones’ bill would not require a medical professional or health care institution to perform or participate in any medical procedures that contradict their conscience. This includes providing abortion, abortion-inducing drugs, contraception or sterilization.
Rep. Kathie Conway, R-St. Charles, said she believes this is just a jab at the bill passed last week and it is just trying to make a point.
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 are 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.