Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) has vetoed an anti-abortion bill that would have required a doctor to be present for a woman to take the abortion-inducing drug RU-486, effectively banning “tele-med” abortions and disproportionately affecting women in rural communities. Dayton wrote in his veto letter that patient safety should always be a concern, but “a veto is warranted on legislation because it is driven by a specific political ideology rather than a broad-based concern for protecting all patients.”
Indeed, during debate about the legislation, a Democratic state senator asked why RU-486 should be regulated instead of erectile dysfunction medication. Sen. Paul Gazelka (R), the bill’s sponsor, said Viagra is a “wonderful drug” that “helps create life.” RH Reality Check’s Robin Marty asked Gazelka to clarify his comments about Viagra, and he said in response:
"comparing Viagra to RU-486 was comparing apples and oranges or more like comparing life and death. Viagra is a wonderful medical advancement in that can help couples with sexual disfunction issues…it can even help in producing life. RU486 always destroys life by taking the life of the unborn child."
Gazelka did not respond to Marty’s questions about whether he would sponsor a bill to collect information about men who are prescribed Viagra, similar to “databases created in various other states to gather information on women who obtain abortions.”
Gazelka’s bill and his ensuing comments about Viagra highlight the unfair burden placed on women who seek abortions and related health care. State regulations continue to add additional hurdles women must overcome to access abortions and contraception, while no similar measures block the availably of Viagra for men.