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Legislative Riposte To Abortion Opponents Wins Fans, Committee Consideration

Louisville Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D) speaking on the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives
Louisville Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D) speaking on the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives

The sponsor of a bill requiring men to attend to two face-to-face consultations with a doctor before receiving erectile dysfunction drugs says she’s heard from thousands of supporters across the country since House Bill 396 captured the attention of national media outlets.

Louisville Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D) speaking on the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives
Credit AP
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Louisville Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D) speaking on the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives

Admittedly tongue-in-cheek, the bill is meant as a not-so-subtle dig directed at lawmakers who recently approved legislation placing added restrictions on women seeking abortions in Kentucky. And the woman behind the measure, Louisville Democrat Mary Lou Marzian, says taking the reductio ad absurdum route has kept her inbox full since she filed the legislation.

"I had a phone call from Texas. A man called me and said, 'Thank you. That's so smart. Why don't you make men get an EKG and a stress test before they get Viagra? Put that in there too,'" she tells reporters. "It's been really very interesting, but the bottom line is people do not want people involved in their personal, private medical decisions."

The measure mirrors Senate Bill 4, the first passed during the 2016 session and signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin. It mandates in-person or real-time video meetings for women and their doctors at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, a rule change pro-life advocates have cheered and Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton called a "bellwether of things to come." But Marzian sees it as a chance to sound the alarm on government overreach.

"I think the issue and the point has been made to wake people up to what the Kentucky General Assembly is doing to them," the longtime Jefferson County  representative adds.

Critics of her approach have complained that Marzian is comparing issues of life and death to obtaining drugs like Viagra, but the lawmaker says she’s out to make a serious point. The bill has been posted for consideration in the House Health and Welfare Committee and Marzian says she believes the votes may be there to pass it.

Copyright 2016 WUKY

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now known as Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and Program Director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.