On Feb. 13, Representative Rolanda Hollis introduce a new bill in the Alabama House of Representatives that has raised a lot of controversy. It is known as HB 238 and would “require a man to undergo a vasectomy within one month of his 50th birthday or the birth of his third biological child, whichever comes first.”
There has been disapproval from others who see the bill as infringing on men’s rights. The argument is that there should be no regulations on this personal matter. A few students have also disagreed with the sentiment of this bill because it restricts the autonomy of a person.
Hollis, a democratic representative of the 58th district, does not believe that this bill should be seen as an overstep by the state government. Frequently, it happens with women’s bodies when there is legislation passed to restricting abortions and other reproductive health matters.
The goal with this bill was to bring light to the issue of legislation being passed regarding what women can do to their bodies—specifically to another contentious law signed last year concerning abortions.
There is a question about how equal abortions and vasectomies are and if they would be comparable in this case.
“Vasectomies can be reversed, and they do not cause emotional distress that abortions or lack of access to abortions services can,” said Destiny Herbers (’21).
The many comparisons come from the restrictions placed upon the bodies. The idea would be that if one is restricted that other should as well or vice versa.
“Just as I would turn to my doctor over my state legislator to make recommendations when deciding whether or not to have a surgery…it is my doctor with whom I …should consult when it comes to making the incredibly difficult decisions related to my personal reproductive rights,” Hollis said.
In May 2019, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill that was considered the strictest abortion ban. The only cases in which abortion would be allowed included when the mother’s life would be in danger. The ban has been suspended pending the completion of the court case challenging it.
This bill is seen as the first to restrict men’s reproductive health. It also would require men to pay for the procedure themselves. This has raised questions about what role the government should play, if any, in a person’s personal life.
“The government should not make anything that is not 100 percent beneficial, such as vaccines, mandatory,” said Em Bolam (’22).
“Health insurance should cover things like vasectomies, hysterectomies, birth control and abortion. Not only that, but they should be more accessible. Someone shouldn’t have to get their spouse’s permission to get a hysterectomy,” said Bolam.
With the Democratic primary coming to a close and the upcoming election drawing nearer, topics of health and a person’s rights are important to consider. Health care will be a point of debate and is important to be informed on.
For students, it can be easily overlooked as it does not affect their everyday lives in the specific terms mentioned in this bill. There are other aspects to reproductive health such as birth control
“I feel like students often take things like reproductive healthcare for granted, but there are a lot of people on birth control on this campus, and for all different reasons,” said Bolam. “If birth control was suddenly more expensive or inaccessible due to a change in political power, a lot of people would be affected negatively.”
The bill is currently with the House Judiciary Committee. If passed, it would become effective the first day of the third month after the governor’s approval.