During a debate Tuesday night, Tennessee state Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R) told state legislators that it's harder for men to get vasectomies than for women to get abortions. He knows, he said, from personal experience.
Gardenhire, however, acknowledged he only has experience with one of the procedures, though it is not the one he proposes making laws about. "Men go through a lot more stringent process for a vasectomy than women, I assume, go through for an abortion,” Gardenhire told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Having personal experience in that field and also having 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,” he said.
Gardenhire's life experience was shared during debate over a bill that would require a 48-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion in Tennessee.
Gardenhire’s comment came after state Sen. Sara Kyle (D) argued that increased regulations on abortions should also be extended to vasectomies.
“Here you’re putting all this burden on a woman. Why don’t we put these same standards on a man who wants to have a vasectomy?” Kyle asked.
A call to Gardenhire's office was not immediately returned.
Last week after the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee rejected a plan to expand Medicaid to some 280,000 state residents, Gardenhire, a member of the panel who voted with the majority, called an activist “asshole” after he was asked if he would give up his own state-subsidized health insurance.
Gardenhire, in a video of the incident, turned around and said something along the lines of "Not giving it up, asshole" or, perhaps, "Why don't you give it up, asshole?"
Odd as Gardenhire's argument may be, it does include one element that in a fundamental way gives up the game. The Nashville Scene picked up Gardenhire's accidental admission that he doesn't actually understand the process he is insisting on regulating:
That's right, in the middle of a debate over abortion, a state senator said "I assume."
Maybe we shouldn't just assume stuff when deciding to enact legislation?
Watch Gardenhire’s comment about vasectomies and abortions above, and his run-in with a constituent below.