Friday, February 24, 2012

Needed: A womenís hearing on menís health

The nation, including Idaho, has lost its collective mind over female contraception.

Forget that we still have major problems with terrorism, cyber-terrorism, computer-generated invasions of privacy, immigration, energy and the environment. Yet, Republicans are obsessed with contraception.

Last week, a panel of five male witnesses led off a hearing to discuss an Obama administration rule that requires health insurance policies to include coverage for contraception for women.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, had rejected testimony from a woman whose name was submitted by Democrats. Two Democratic women on the committee walked out in protest. The panel of men, mostly clergy, opined that requiring church-owned businesses to provide insurance that covers birth control for women violates their religious precepts. Issa held the hearing despite the fact that churches are already exempt from the requirement.

After this mockery of a hearing, it's only fair that the House of Representatives convene a hearing on what kinds of drugs and medical treatment that men receive may be covered by insurance.

A woman would conduct it and only women would be allowed to testify. Sworn testimony would focus on the need to outlaw insurance coverage for drugs like Viagra and Cialis that enhance male sexual performance or treatments for low testosterone in aging men.

Testimony would center on women's sincere concerns about the effects of the drugs on men's health, behavior and psyche. Female church leaders—the few that might be found—could weigh in on the meaning of the total absence of references to these drugs in religious texts. They could frown on forcing church-owned businesses to pay for coverage of drugs that have anything to do with sex.

Unlike the all-male panel, female social activists will call for hiking the price of men's drugs to create a trust fund to support Viagra kids—particularly if the unholy marriage of church and state manages to outlaw birth control for women. Think Social Security and Medicare are expensive? Wait until federal budget wonks get a look at the cost of supporting Viagra kids through college. It will make their computer spreadsheets explode.

When the Women's Hearing on Men's Health is held in Washington, D.C., Virginia women should hold one of their own to create a companion bill just for men that they can drag out if that state's lawmakers ever again propose to force medical personnel to perform invasive vaginal imaging upon women who seek abortions.

Here's to equality under the law.

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