A US lawmaker who wants to highlight abortion issues has proposed new legislation that would see Texas men fined US$100 (NZ$144) if they masturbated without supervision
The House Bill 4260, otherwise known as the Man’s Right to Know Act, will receive its first reading in the state’s House of Representatives after being created by state representative Jessica Farrar.
The satirical bill to regulate “masturbatory emissions” was created to highlight the hoops women must jump through when they seek an abortion.
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“What I would like to see is this make people stop and think,” Farrar said when she first filed the bill in March.
“Maybe my colleagues aren’t capable of that, but the people who voted for them, or the people that didn’t vote at all, I hope that it changes their mind and helps them to decide what the priorities are.”
The tongue-in-cheek law, which Farrar admits has no hope of passing, would require men to wait 24 hours after an “initial health care consultation” to receive an elective vasectomy, colonoscopy or Viagra prescription.
The 24-hour waiting period mirrors a law passed in Texas in 2011, which forces women to have an ultrasound at least 24 hours before an abortion, according to Planned Parenthood.
Her bill would also require men seeking those procedures to receive a booklet of informational materials titled “A Man’s Right to Know.” It “must contain medical information related to the benefits and concerns of a man seeking a vasectomy, Viagra prescriptions or a colonoscopy.”
The “rules and procedures for the creation of and distribution” of the materials will “exactly follow the rules and procedures of the informational booklet entitled ‘A Woman’s Right to Know,’ ” the bill stated, referring to the booklet doctors are legally required to give women seeking an abortion, in accordance with a 2003 informed consent law.
That booklet has for years been derided by critics who claim it is “ideologically motivated and medically inaccurate,” Texas Public Radio reported in January.
In one section, for example, the booklet lists “Breast Cancer Risk” as a potential danger of abortion. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog gave this three Pinocchios.
“But research overwhelmingly shows that abortion is not associated with a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer,” the blog post said.
“Further, the citations in this booklet point to research from a disputed methodology to find such an association, or cite studies that explicitly say there is no association between abortion and protection against breast cancer.”
“Emissions outside of a woman’s vagina, or created outside of a health or medical facility, will be charged a US$100 civil penalty for each emission, and will be considered an act against an unborn child,” the four-page bill read.
Furthermore, emissions created in medical facilities “will be stored for the purposes of conception for a current or future wife.”
“A lot of people find the bill funny,” Farrar told the Houston Chronicle. “What’s not funny are the obstacles that Texas women face every day, that were placed there by legislatures making it very difficult for them to access health care.”
She fears the barriers to women’s health will only grow with the new administration, which is why she filed the bill this year.
“Especially with Trump as president, I think these folks are on fire now. They’re off the chain now,” Farrar said.
“If they can elect someone based on making racist remarks and derogatory remarks toward women and such, then we’ve just given them license to offend and license to be even worse than before.”
Since her initial election in 1994, Farrar has been particularly outspoken against laws affecting women’s health.
Recently, she argued against a bill by State Rep. Byron Cook, (Republican, Corsicana), that would require hospitals to bury or cremate fetal remains in case of a miscarriage or an abortion.
“Let me be clear: this bill has nothing to do with abortion procedures whatsoever. It has everything to do with ensuring the dignity of the deceased,” Cook said in defense of the bill. “We believe Texas can do better than this.”
“The fetal remains bill imposes state-sponsored moral beliefs on women, affecting their ability to make personal decisions with their doctor,” Farrar said via Twitter.
She also spoke out against a bill proposed by State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (Republican) that would charge both an abortion provider and the woman receiving the procedure with murder, the Texas Tribune reported.
Perhaps in retaliation, Tinderholt issued a fiery statement against Farrar’s bill to the newspaper, claiming she doesn’t understand her own body.
“I’m embarrassed for Rep. Farrar,” he said. “Her attempt to compare to the abortion issue shows a lack of a basic understanding of human biology. I would recommend that she consider taking a high school biology class from a local public or charter school before filing another bill on the matter.”
Others in Texas, though, seem to be fond of the bill. One Twitter user called it “legendary,” while another wrote that Farrar “expertly trolls” the Texas legislature.
Texas Tribune executive editor Ross Ramsey simply tweeted, “I’m pretty sure this is going to be a famous bill.”