Some men are so keen to speak on behalf of women’s bodies, but they sure do know jack-squat about them. This was recently proven by Idaho State Rep. Vito Barbieri during a hearing for a bill prohibiting the prescription of abortion drugs via telemedicine.
Dr. Julie Madsen, speaking on behalf of using web-cams for prescribing drugs, was explaining the pills used in colonoscopies that allow doctors to see its progression through the intestines. This is when Rep. Barbieri asked the not-so-obvious question: “Can this same procedure be done in a pregnancy — swallowing a camera and helping the doctor determine what the situation is with the child?”
Now, he’s no doctor (thank goodness), but I think we could have assumed a man representing significant portion of a state (or anyone) would know that women consist of more than a mouth, a vagina, and one long tube connecting them.
Dr. Madsen, a true master of sass, responded with, “It cannot be done in pregnancy simply because, when you swallow a pill, it would not end up in the vagina.” This got a few laughs from the crowd (which we can only hope were at the expense of Barbieri’s notion of anatomy and not the word ‘vagina’ said aloud). Since then the exchange has been gaining traction on the Internet as one of the dumbest things a Republican Representative has ever said. Is it though? “Shit Republicans Say About Women” could go back as far as the Reagan era.
Remember when Missouri Rep. Todd Akin said “from what [he] understands from Doctors,” pregnancy from rape is “really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." We aren’t sure to which “doctors” he’s referring, but we’re hoping they’re not ours.
In 1988, Deleware County State Rep. Stephen Freind said the odds of a woman getting pregnant from being raped are “one in millions and millions and millions.” (He forgot to say times infinity.) Freind went on to explain that a traumatic experience such as rape causes a woman to “secrete a certain secretion” that tends to kill sperm. Two doctors in Philadelphia specializing in human reproduction thankfully debunked Freind’s claim on the basis of science.
In 1995, Republican Rep. Henry Aldridge told the House Appropriations committee: “The facts show that people who are raped—who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant.” That’s right folks, juices.
Looking back on the outrageous things important people have said in the name of science is all very amusing, and it’s fun calling them on their bullshit. Keep in mind though, this bill—the one Dr. Julie Madsen was fighting against—was approved by the committee 13-4.
Image c/o Matt Cilley/AP