- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Tennessee state senator who made headlines recently for cussing out a protester on YouTube has returned to the spotlight by comparing vasectomies to abortions.

During a Senate debate Tuesday about a measure that would require a 48-hour waiting period for an abortion, Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga said a vasectomy is a “more stringent” medical procedure than an abortion.

He made the comment while speaking in favor of the legislation, which the Senate Judiciary Committee passed by a 7-2 vote.

The proposal would also require the woman to sign a form indicating she has been informed of the details of her pregnancy and the risks of an abortion.

During committee debate, Democratic Sen. Sara Kyle of Memphis said men seeking a vasectomy should have to adhere to the same standards.

Gardenhire, who has had a vasectomy reversed, responded that he believes a vasectomy is “a lot more stringent process” than that of a woman having an abortion.

“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.

About two weeks ago, a video captured Gardenhire having an exchange with a protester who had come to the legislative office complex to support Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to extend health insurance to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans. The measure had again been voted down, a month after failing in a special session.

A voice repeatedly asks the senator whether he would give up his state health insurance after contributing to the defeat of Haslam’s proposal.

The posted video shows Gardenhire being confronted as he emerges from a restroom and calling the protester an obscene name. Gardenhire said he was upset because he had been followed to a restroom by the protester.

“When a guy follows you to the bathroom shouting and screaming at you, and you’re trying to do your business … He’s lucky I only called him by his first name,” Gardenhire said.

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