I am not a Republican. I strongly disagree with most of the GOP’s core philosophy and just about every point on their platform. But I’ll give them this:
When Republicans get into office, they get things done. They don’t waste time, and they don’t mince words. It’s damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.
And what’s more, they don’t care how you feel about it — not one bit.
In just the past few months, they’ve doubled down on their alienation and marginalization of gays, Latinos, Blacks and most recently, women.
This is the one I just didn’t understand. Sexual and ethnic minorities are one thing, but women? Aren’t there more than a few Republican women? And aren’t those women going to be just as offended as anyone else at the way women are viewed and treated these days by the GOP?
Turns out, they’re fine with it — or if they aren’t, they’re keeping their outrage to themselves. Same goes for the Republican men who know in their hearts that forced invasive medical procedures and 19th century views on contraception are wrong, but can’t bring themselves to publicly disagree with their party leadership because of blind loyalty or fear of reprisal.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for a while, you’ve heard about the latest volley in the GOP’s national war on women — the mandatory transvaginal ultrasound.
See, in the eyes of Republicans, young women who make the difficult and painful decision to terminate an unwanted pregnancy simply lack the information to make an intelligent choice, meaning not having an abortion. So, the state, in its benevolent wisdom, will help those women make the right choice by harassing, embarrassing, humiliating, and traumatizing them further.
Moving swiftly through red state legislatures around the country, including here in Pennsylvania with House Bill 1077, so-called “ultrasound bills” are gaining momentum.
There are variants and subtle differences state by state, but the gist is this: In order to get a legal abortion, women must undergo a medically unnecessary, highly invasive ultrasound procedure, and be forced to watch the results on a monitor — the idea being if the woman sees the fetus and hears the heartbeat, she may have second thoughts about the abortion. There are also other cruel barriers set up, but all have one purpose: to use shame and fear to advance the pro-life agenda.
Those bills have had one unintended consequence, though — women (and men) are outraged, and some have come up with creative ways of expressing that anger.
One of those is state Sen. Larry Farnese of South Philly. What Farnese did was simply turn the tables on the GOP by introducing his own bill, which would force men seeking medical treatment for erectile dysfunction to undergo a series of emotionally traumatic indignities before they can get a prescription for Viagra or Cialis or whatever.
Farnese’s bill would force ED sufferers to undergo a full prostate exam and cardiac stress tests, participate in a tell-all counseling session, get a signed affidavit from their sex partner confirming the, ahem, difficulty — and watch a harrowing warning video outlining the potential dangers of popular ED drugs like Viagra.
He had me at full prostate exam.
“My bill is designed to send a wake up call to my Republican colleagues,” Farnese told me Wednesday. “I want to drive a stake through the heart of the ultrasound bill.”
And to those who’d accuse him of wasting taxpayer time and money on a smart aleck retaliatory bill with slim chance of passage, Farnese plays the hypocrisy card.
“The Republicans don’t mind spending taxpayer money to go after the poor, or money to curtail the right of citizens to vote, or money to turn back the clock on women’s rights,” he growled. “With 500,000 unemployed in our state, they’re spending taxpayer money on shredding the social safety net. I’m just asking that they re-prioritize.”
Farnese’s tongue is definitely planted in his cheek on this one, but he’s right.
When the GOP swept into power, they promised to cut taxes, attract new business and manufacturing, and most importantly, they promised to make job creation their highest priority.
What they actually meant was they’d make job creators, their cute euphemism for greedy millionaires, their highest priority. On that score, they’ve come through with flying colors.
Farnese’s proposed forced prostate exam will really just do to them what they’ve spent the last two years doing to the rest of us. That’s not exactly retaliatory — that’s karma.
Daryl Gale is the Philadelphia Tribune's city editor.