Howell Seeks Gender Equity in Ultrasound Bill

To protest sonogram mandate, state senator adds amendment that requires men to have additional tests for ED exam.

To protest a bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion, Virginia State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) on Monday attached an amendment that would require men to have a rectal exam and a cardiac stress test before obtaining a prescription for erectile dysfunction medication.

"We need some gender equity here," she told HuffPost. "The Virginia senate is about to pass a bill that will require a woman to have totally unnecessary medical procedure at their cost and inconvenience. If we're going to do that to women, why not do that to men?"

The Senate will formally vote on the mandatory ultrasound bill on Tuesday.

The Republican-controlled senate  rejected the amendment Monday by a vote of 21 to 19, but passed the mandatory ultrasound bill in a voice vote. 

Howell said she is not surprised her amendment failed.

"This is more of a message type of an amendment, so I was pleased to get 19 votes," she said.

Rob Whitfield January 31, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Senator Howell is an arrogant person who is anti morality and anti family. She should have been removed from the General Assembly long ago. Her Senate colleagues should demand that she make a public apology to Virginian men, on bended knee.
Frank Sogandares January 31, 2012 at 05:06 PM
It was defeated... you're safe.
The BSD Guy January 31, 2012 at 06:35 PM
This is a good example of what's wrong with this country, and unfortunately we have only ourselves to blame. Sen. Howell has been in office for a very long time, frequently running unopposed. She has been accused by many of being in the pocket, and acting effectively as an "agent" for the county's very, very special interest: the developers. THE ONLY REASON SHE KEEPS GETTING ELECTED AND RE-ELECTED IS BECAUSE WE COLLECTIVELY DON'T PAY ANY ATTENTION!!! The response she offered up to the Republicans is, in a nutshell, idiotic. Her amendment shows her intellect to be right up there with Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, and Louie Gohmert. I think perhaps I should go into the bumper sticker business. I could manufacture, for the likes of those I mentioned above as well as all their bi-partisan intellectual equals throughout our government, a bumper sticker that reads the following: "WE'RE STUPID AND PROUD OF IT!" Of course, on behalf of those I've just mentioned, perhaps I should deliberately make a spelling error ... perhaps "STOOPID" instead of "STUPID."
Kim January 31, 2012 at 07:43 PM
You are all absolutely right. Keep government out of our bedrooms and doctors' offices. I believe that is the point Sen. Howell was trying to make.
Amelie Krikorian January 31, 2012 at 10:49 PM
A shame she didn't propose having men get the ED exam with the same kind of contraption that does mammograms! I imagine a lot of guys would forgo their little blue pills if that happened!
JoAnne Norton January 31, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Sen Howell is a very intelligent and very dedicated. She and Del Plum go down to Richmond and diligently try to obtain funds and services for Northern Virginians and good health mandates for the Commonwealth- the autism bill. It is not easy being from Northern Virginia down there. The point of the amendment is to remind us that these are intimate private matters that we legislate on.
Laura B. January 31, 2012 at 11:56 PM
I think this was a great way for Sen. Howell to make her point. In fact, I'm proud that she's a Northern Virginian. But apparently some people don't "get it."
Frank Sogandares February 01, 2012 at 01:07 AM
if her bill had passed, they certainly would! :)
Reston Mom February 01, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Proud to be a part of Senator Howell's district, and to have voted for her! Her amendments absolutely make sense: ED drugs can cause heart attacks, so men wanting them should be required to get tested for pre-existing heart conditions before obtaining a prescription for them. It makes perfect sense to me! I'm very sad the amendment didn't pass.
Kathy February 01, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Janet Howell is much more generous than I would be. I would have insisted the male Virginia legislators who voted for the bill requiring transvaginal sonograms be required to undergo the old-fashioned sigmoidoscopy with the big, rigid scope, not just a rectal exam. A state-mandated transvaginal sonogram is a state-mandated sexual assault. Ovarian cancer runs in my family and because my gynecologist runs to the skittish side of things, I have had to have two transvaginal sonograms. They are not benign. They are painful. That a state would require such an exam of a woman choosing to terminate a pregnancy is punitive. Is is cruel and unusual? I would say so. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the courts. Good for you, Janet Howell. Kathy Kaplan Reston
Lynn February 02, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Thank-you, Jane, for your advocacy for women and trying to spare women unnecessary medical tests and increasing costs of healthcare. This is an example of gender inequality and the good old boys network at it's worst. Jane's comment was well-deserved. I only wish other representatives "got it."
The BSD Guy February 02, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I think the point of some of our critiques of Ms. Howell has not been her opposition to the bill, but rather the fact that to "counter" it, she offers up what appears to be a temper tantrum. Please keep in mind that our brilliant legislators, when they play these little games, are doing it using taxpayer money and time that might be better spent doing something constructive. Allow me to offer up these words: If Ms. Howell is so committed to this cause, and if she's such a great senator that I'm lucky to have on my side, WHY IS IT THAT THE FIRST TIME I HEAR ABOUT THIS BILL IS ONLY AFTER IT'S PASSED??? I would think a "committed" senator would have been out there trying to rally support and opposition to the bill. What do you get instead? Essentially a temper tantrum. Heaven forbid her highness actually has to go out and let people know what's going on ... that would take effort. No, it's much easier to sit on your hands feigning outrage, and then offer up some ludicrous bill to "get even" with the evil doers, and then play the victim. Sorry guys, I just don't buy it.
JoAnne Norton February 02, 2012 at 07:32 PM
I heard about it but then I visit the places on the Internet that talk about upcoming legislation.
Nancy coleman February 15, 2012 at 04:59 PM
How do they rape thee? Let me count the ways...
Richard Holmquist February 15, 2012 at 05:23 PM
BSD, your head's been in the sand. Everyone (but you, apparently) knew these bills were coming. Janet Howell and Ken Plum both indicated during the election how important it was for the senate to remain in the hands of Democrats or these bills, which have been blocked by the senate for several years, would pass. So, now you know. The whole country knows thanks to Janet Howell's "temper tantrum" and the media outlets who have picked it up everywhere. Call the governor's office and complain. There's still time for him to veto it.
Reston Mom February 15, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I simply do not understand how Republicans can claim to be the party that wants small government -- to allow people to do what they want without government getting in the way. Yet they also insist on requiring women to have doctors insert an ultrasound probe into their genitals without their consent for a procedure that is medically unnecessary (and then make them pay for the privilege). See http://video.msnbc.msn.com/the-rachel-maddow-show/46391123#null .
The BSD Guy February 15, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Richard Holmquist wrote: "BSD, your head's been in the sand. Everyone (but you, apparently) knew these bills were coming." Ms. Howell, IMHO, put no special emphasis on it until she came up with her ludicrous counter tactic. If someone wants to make a point about something, they can usually be loud and clear about it. The only time Howell was "loud and clear" was when it was too late, and she did it in an asinine manner.
Richard Holmquist February 15, 2012 at 08:44 PM
"Asinine"... I love it. Very funny. In any case, I think you're naive to think that there was any more that Sen. Howell could do. She did a fine job in getting re-elected. Her Republican opponent in the last election certainly wouldn't have had any better luck with this issue. What different result would a bigger song and dance to her constituents have had? Ken Plum and Janet Howell both voted against this awful bill. Her "asinine" (heh heh) amendment brought state and national attention to the issue BEFORE the senate vote. Thanks to Janet, everybody knew about the bill.The bill passed anyway on overwhelming Republican support, but it's still not too late for the governor to veto it. I won't hold my breath for a veto, but if you don't like the bill, there's one guy you can still call to try to put a stop to it. I hope you've called him already, otherwise you're being somewhat hypocritcal.
Uncle Smartypants February 15, 2012 at 09:12 PM
It's easy to feign righteousness when you are passing a law that can never apply to you. Why is it that a bunch of men - primarily old and white - are allowed to pass a law that only applies to women? If only women - either legislators or the public - voted on this, does anyone believe the result would be the same. It's been said before and it's worth repeating: If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.
RKO February 16, 2012 at 06:50 PM
I never heard of this bill until it was in it's final phases of being passed. I suppose if I was a news hound or political aficianado I could have hunted out information about it on the web, but like most people, I'm not. It seems clear to me that if the good senator was truly serious about this she would have at least made some attempt to publicize it, and I saw none (For the love of God, people, even News Channel 8 had nothing ... nada ... no announcements). There was no attempt to publicize this. If all our supreme leaders and overlords can do is sit on their hands when presented with a bill they find offensive, and then at the last moment throw the equivalent of a political temper tantrum, I think it might be time we get new representatives in office.
Richard Holmquist February 16, 2012 at 11:33 PM
RKO and BSD, I'm interested in you thoughts about how Howell could have effected the outcome in some other way. She devised an attention-getting method to attract statewide and national attention before the final vote. In my opinion, she could hardly do more. Also, keep in mind that I think from the bill's introduction to the time she brought attention to it was only something like a couple of weeks. Of course, the bill was anticipated, but not introduced until the start of the legislative session. With that short calendar, she had to do something dramatic to get attention. I think you'll agree that she did. By the way, don't forget to call the governor if you don't like it. He can still veto it. The process isn't finished.
The BSD Guy February 17, 2012 at 06:50 PM
How about publicizing it in a manner that made it obvious to everyone what was going on LONG BEFORE THE BILL WAS TO PASS. Most people pay no attention to politics, and to get them to do so takes some effort (aka WORK). Could Sen. Howell and others taken a different approach to inform people what was going on??? I think so.
Jason Spencer (Editor) March 20, 2012 at 04:30 AM
One comment has been deleted from this thread for violating Patch's terms of service. The reader is welcome to repost the comment without the cursing (or masked cursing). I know this is a heated topic, but let's try to keep things civil.
ECR March 20, 2012 at 11:51 AM
BSD, If you really want to follow what is happening legislatively, you can sign up for the newsletters from our legislators. Janet Howell regularly sends out newsletters to her constituents as does Jim Moran, Chap Peterson, and Cathy Hudgins. While some of your representatives may be different, it is likely that your representatives provide newsletters as well. To sign up for the newsletters, you need only to visit the representative's web site (they all have them) and provide an email address on the "sign-up for my newsletter" page. For Janet Howell, you can find the sign-up here: http://www.janethowell.com/ at the top of the page on the right. If you are concerned about your privacy, she has a whole web page explaining the privacy policies. These newsletters used to go out via traditional mail and have transitioned to email to save time, paper, and the tax dollars it cost to print and mail them. I hope more Virginians sign-up for these newsletters and pay closer attention to the decisions our representatives are making. It is often easier to complain about the outcome of the legislative process than to get involved and take the time to be informed, particularly before voting. We are all busy, including our representatives, and they are doing their part to inform us through newsletters, facebook, twitter, and print.
ECR March 20, 2012 at 11:56 AM
To sign up for other legislative newsletters, here are some of the site links: Chap Peterson https://services.myngp.com/ngponlineservices/EmailSignup.aspx?X=un3qE%2f5OGBM%3d Jim Moran https://moran.house.gov/contact-me/newsletter Cathy Hudgins http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/huntermill/newslettersandarchives.htm [top of the page in the text describing the info on the page] Sharon Bulova http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/chairman/ [Middle of the page, under Bulova Byline]
Reston Mom March 20, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Ken Plum's newsletter is distributed every Wednesday -- sign up at http://kenplum.com.
RKO March 20, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Some people seem to be confusing the issue, the ultra-sound debate, with BSD's critique of the senators actions. I think the gist of it is, or at least was in terms of my own comments, that there should have been more of an uproar coming from opponents and we didn't get it. If a building is on fire and you want to get the occupants out, do you make people aware of it by putting a link to it up on your web site?
ECR March 20, 2012 at 07:27 PM
RKO We weren't confused at all by the issue. Quite the contrary. Many of us were out there getting the word out. Do you think it is by sheer coincidence that the national media picked up on this issue in Virginia? No, it was through the efforts of people to get the word out and make the issue public so that the Bill wasn't buried in paperwork in Richmond. The word got out. Tens of thousands of people called Richmond, there were demonstrations, articles written and stories on the news. How BSD missed all this is beyond me, but I for one will give him the benefit of the doubt, that perhaps he was extremely busy that week. I, for one, am glad that many carried the issue to national notice and our Senator did the work she was supposed to do, that is, to negotiate, discuss and work on the behalf of her constituents who were telling her they were against this invasion on women's privacy. I think Janet Howell did a fabulous job of getting our attention on this important issue. We only had to pay attention.


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