South Carolina

Limit Viagra access? S.C. House panel to consider proposal

Viagra, the erectile dysfunction treatment, is made by Pfizer.
Viagra, the erectile dysfunction treatment, is made by Pfizer. NYT

A panel of S.C. lawmakers will consider next week whether to make it more difficult for men to get Viagra and other erectile-dysfunction drugs.

State Rep. Mia McLeod, D-Richland, is proposing adding hurdles for men trying to get prescriptions for those drugs. McLeod says she is trying to make a point about the male-dominated General Assembly’s willingness to legislate women’s health-care options, including limiting abortions.

“If we are going to govern ... some of it, I just think we need to govern all of it,” McLeod said.

McLeod’s proposal would require men to obtain a notarized affidavit from at least one sexual partner that states the patient has experienced symptoms of erectile dysfunction during the past 90 days.

Patients also would have to see a sex therapist, have a cardiac stress test and be notified of Viagra’s risks before they could get a prescription.

The leader of Republicans who control the S.C. House says the bill is a waste of time and is unrelated to pro-life legislation.

But McLeod’s proposal will be the second bill dealing with sexuality to grab headlines in two weeks.

Earlier this week, two state senators heard testimony about a proposal to ban transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice.

State Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, has vowed to kill that proposal.

McLeod is running for the Senate seat held by Lourie, who is retiring at the end of this session.

The state does have bigger issues to deal with, McLeod said. “But, every year, we find ourselves dealing with an effort by some of my Republican colleagues to tighten the abortion laws.”

McLeod says her proposal has drawn international attention. “People across the globe have heard me.”

But she did not know Friday who plans to speak for or against the bill.

Planned Parenthood will not testify at the hearing and is not taking a position on the proposal, said spokesperson Alyssa Miller.

But the group opposes any attempt by the government to interfere with a doctor-patient relationship, she added.

That relationship includes a male patient and his physician having a conversation about erectile dysfunction or a female patient having a conversation with her physician about whether to have an abortion, Miller said.

“While we applaud (Rep. McLeod) for raising awareness about the fact that, on a daily basis, the politicians are inserting themselves into the very personal and private decisions that women make on a daily basis regarding their health … we don’t believe that the government has any business in the exam room,” Miller said.

House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister of Greenville said he hopes the panel, made up entirely of minority-party Democrats, will not spend a lot of time on the proposal or advance the bill.

“McLeod knows that the bill is not actually ever going to become law,” Bannister said. But if lawmakers have to consider the proposal, it will take up time that could be devoted to solving state problems, he added.

Bannister said McLeod’s proposal has nothing to do with abortion.

“The administration of Viagra by a doctor is completely unrelated to when you believe life begins — whether at conception or birth.”

McLeod has mentioned her conversation-creating bill in fund-raising pitches for her November state Senate campaign.

Republican Susan Brill, a Richland 2 school board member and former Richland County Council member, is running against McLeod for the Senate seat.

Brill said she was surprised by the proposal.

“I sort of question if this is something we really need to be discussing,” Brill said, adding she does not think the state needs to be legislating people’s health.

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