PMS defense: In no mood

Elise T. Chisolm

June 25, 1991|By Elise T. Chisolm

IT'S POSSIBLE we will see this advertisement: ''Have PMS? Call the law office of Steven L. Win, I'll get you off. I win a case at least once a month.''

I bet you think I'm kidding. Well, read on.

America's first successful criminal defense based on premenstrual syndrome may have helped a Virginia surgeon, a woman, avoid a drunken-driving conviction. Her lawyer used as her defense the fact that she had PMS.

The doctor was stopped for driving erratically while transporting her three children and for use of abusive behavior and kicking a state trooper in the groin. She was acquitted.

The case, however, is reviving old debates about just how or if women are impaired when they have PMS.

The prosecutor, thank goodness, a woman, contended that it will hurt women's credibility everywhere. You bet!

And from the National Women Law Center comes this: ''It reinforces the stereotype that a lot of people have about PMS -- that there is a certain time of the month that women become completely irrational and dangerous.''

The case is dividing feminists, health care officials and lawyers. Feminists fear that there will be a renaissance of the old myths about ''raging hormones'' that could deny women high-level jobs or child custody.

And I agree -- spoken from someone who never had PMS, never had a headache, or was just too busy raising four kids, keeping house and a job.

''Hello, Mr. Boring, I can't come to work today or tomorrow, I have PMS; don't want to work on that nuclear reactor with these nerves . . ."

Or over the public address system at a school: ''The principal asks all teachers with PMS to fill out the yellow card and put it in the PMS box in the center hall. You will be given two days off without pay, and please report to the gym at 7 a.m. for exercise and a low-salt breakfast when you return to school.''

Woman to judge: ''Sure, I murdered my husband, I had PMS. He wouldn't turn on the air conditioner. But I did NOT put the cat in the freezer. She jumped in when I had it open because she had PMS and was hot as hell. And one more thing, judge, my lawyer, Mr. Gullible, will enter an insanity plea if this doesn't work . . .''

Look, I'm not going to get all medical on you. But if women can plead PMS and get off charges such as DWI, child abuse or assaulting a police officer, men will get back at us. They will start working on pleas in court such as, ''I had an affair because of my mid-life crisis,'' or ''I'm getting a divorce because my wife has multiple PMS.''

Come on girls, wise up, stick to the fact that women are astronauts, serve in wars, hold down jobs, raise kids and keep households going.

Men will love this PMS stuff. Any macho man will laugh all the way to the board room, where he will sit in the president's chair.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.