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Iowa lawmaker proposes 'Viagra' bill to make a point, not to make a law

Mascher: If men had to jump through as many hoops as women, laws would change

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DES MOINES — Among the roadkill in the rush to beat the Iowa Legislature’s first funnel deadline is a bill that was never intended to become law.

Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, said she only was trying to make a point with her bill to require a man seeking a prescription for drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, Levitra or Avanafil that are used to treat erectile dysfunction, to have at least one of his sexual partners certify he has experienced that condition and that he receive information on non-pharmaceutical treatments, including counseling and resources on celibacy as a “viable lifestyle choice.”

Mascher’s proposal, House File 2141, didn’t get a subcommittee hearing, the first step toward legislative approval, before Friday’s deadline for bills to be approved by a committee to remain alive for further consideration.

“I didn’t intend for it to become law,” said Mascher, a retired schoolteacher serving her 11th session. “I just wanted to make the point that if men had to jump through all of the hoops women have to go through they would have a fit.”

Among those hoops men would have had to go through, had HF 2141 become law, would be at least one of the patient’s sexual partners being interviewed by the physician to verify that he had experienced symptoms of erectile dysfunction in the previous 90 days; meeting with a mental health professional to determine that the symptoms are not solely attributable to psychological conditions; a stress test to determine the patient’s cardiac health is compatible with sexual activity; and notifying the patient in writing of the potential risks and complications associated with taking drugs to treat erectile dysfunction.

Also, a man would need to have a cardiac stress test every 90 days to get his prescription refilled, and he must attend three sessions of outpatient counseling within six months to ensure he understands the dangerous side effects of drugs intended to treat the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

“Men would be offended by anything that required them to jump through that many hoops — for something they feel entitled to,” Mascher said.

And they would be right to feel the government was unnecessarily interfering in their life, she added.

Her proposal would infringe on individual rights in the same way as bills offered annually to restrict a woman’s access to abortion, Mascher said. Those bills include requiring women to wait at least 24 hours to obtain an abortion after consulting a doctor, viewing a sonogram of their fetus and receiving counseling about the possible psychological impact of abortion.

“The bills infringe on individual rights,” Mascher said. “More than anything, it’s important to understand these are personal decisions that should be between a woman, her doctor and her family, or in the case of ED, a man and his doctor.”

The bill is not original or unique, Mascher said. Similar legislation has been introduced in several other states, including Missouri, Tennessee and South Carolina. In Kentucky, legislation would also require a man to sign a document promising the drug to treat erectile dysfunction would be used only for sexual relations with his wife.

It was a “family values” issues, the Kentucky bill’s sponsor said.

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