NASHVILLE -- A female senator's questioning of why 48-hour mandatory waiting periods are needed for women seeking an abortion while not for men for vasectomies prompted outspoken Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga to weigh in with personal experience and a suggestion it's tougher on men.
Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, posed the question during a contentious Tuesday night debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee over the 48-hour waiting period legislation.
"What I don't understand is the discrimination," Kyle said, according to the digital recording of the meeting. "You're putting all this burden on the woman. Why don't we put these same standards on the man who wants the vasectomy?"
"So," Kyle told an attorney for Tennessee Right to Life, "I'm just asking that what's good for the goose could be good for the gander."
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Mae Beavers, D-Mt. Juliet, said she didn't think the issues were comparable.
Gardenhire then sought recognition.
"I wanted to kind of walk Sen. Kyle through what a vasectomy is and what you have to go through to have one, having personal experience in that field," Gardenhire said. "I also had one reversed. I want to promise you that when you start talking to a doctor about them whacking on you down there you want to wait a while and think about it.
When you start talking to a doctor about them whacking on you down there you want to wait a while and think about it.
"They call you in the office," Gardenhire continued. "They meet with your spouse. They tell you the consequences. They tell you how it's almost impossible to have it reversed and that you better go home and you better think about that -- and then you come back and then they schedule a procedure and [at] a medically qualified office and it takes anywhere from four to six weeks to schedule."
Getting it reversed is even more difficult "time-wise and everything else," the senator said.
"I want to tell you that men go through a lot more stringent process to have a vasectomy, I would assume, on abortion," Gardenhire said.
As Kyle began to respond, Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, interjected, saying, "Let's just make sure that we keep this focused on the topic on the legislation at hand."
Committee members approved the bill which now will be scheduled for Senate floor debate. Similar legislation is moving in the House.
The Tennessee General Assembly's website, which contains both live stream and digitally taped recordings of meetings was plagued for hours with problems on Wednesday.