North Carolina passed a controversial new law today requiring all women, regardless of age, to obtain their father's permission before using birth control.
In a close 26 to 23 vote Republicans in the state senate succeeded in moving the legislation to the desk of Governor Pat McCroy, who is expected to sign it into law Friday.
Officially called the Advancing Female Morality Act (AFMA), the measure requires women to show their pharmacists a notarized signature from their father before obtaining any birth control product. If the woman's father is deceased, she must obtain a signature from her nearest male relative, which may be an uncle or cousin.
Penalties for dispensing birth control without male approval will range from a $4,000 fine to 2 years in prison. Possession of birth control products without a permission slip will be punishable by 60 days probation and community service.
"This is a fantastic day for women in North Carolina," says Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R - Mecklenburg), who sponsored the legislation. "Finally the sluts and tramps among us will have to think twice before engaging in a sinful, promiscuous lifestyle."
Daddy Knows Best?
Since the 2012 election swept Governor McCroy in to power, North Carolina's government has been dominated by Republicans affiliated with the Tea Party movement. They have used their large majorities to pass a series of controversial legislation restricting abortion, curtailing voting rights and banning sharia law.
Today's "Just Ask Dad" legislation, however, could be the most extreme move to date. Opposition from women's groups is building, and a lawsuit is expected to be filed in the coming days in order to stop AFMA from being enacted.
"It really is shocking in this day and age that our elected leaders think women aren't smart enough to make choices about their own reproductive health," says Jessie Spano, president of a local women's rights' organization. "It's almost like the last 40 years never happened."
Other women around the state have pointed out that the law would force often inappropriate conversations about sexuality between parents and their children. Samuelson, however, is unapologetic and says that in the long run the legislation will cut down on unwanted pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted diseases
"Abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method of not getting pregnant," she explains, "and nothing promotes abstinence more than involving your father in decisions about your sex life."