In order to make men understand the impact of anti-abortion laws, Texas state Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) has proposed legislation to fine men for masturbating. The bill, which Farrar has dubbed "satirical" but nonetheless important, would introduce a $100 fine for "masturbatory emissions" that take place outside of a hospital — or a vagina. Deriving its language from typical anti-abortion measures and restrictions, the bill suggests that such emissions would be "considered an act against an unborn child, and failing to preserve the sanctity of life."
The bill, entitled the "Man's Right to Know Act," does more than impose a $100 civil penalty for such incidents. According to The Washington Post, it would require men to wait 24 hours after an "initial health care consultation" if they are seeking a vasectomy, Viagra prescription, or colonoscopy.
Moreover, the bill would result in the creation of a booklet with information regarding the pros and cons of these procedures, and would enable doctors to refuse to do any of these things on the basis of "personal, moralistic, or religious beliefs." The bill doesn't stop there, either — it would also require doctors to "a medically-unnecessary digital rectal exam and magnetic resonance imagining of the rectum before administering an elective vasectomy or colonoscopy procedure, or prescribing Viagra."
That the bill uses language like "medically-unnecessary" makes it clearly satirical, but as Farrar pointed out in a Facebook post, this proposed legislation aims to highlight the double standards of often similarly farfetched anti-abortion restrictions.
In a statement, Farrar said:
Although HB 4260 is satirical, there is nothing funny about current health care restrictions for women and the very real legislation that is proposed every legislative session. Women are not laughing at state-imposed regulations and obstacles that interfere with their ability to legally access safe healthcare, and subject them to fake science and medically unnecessary procedures. Texans deserve to be treated with the same amount of respect when making healthcare decisions, regardless of their gender.
The 24-hour waiting period proposed in the bill is supposed to reflect the very real 24-hour waiting period that people are required to undergo in Texas between an having an ultrasound and having an abortion. As for the required booklet cited by the bill, that also mirrors a real informational booklet that doctors have been required to distribute to patients seeking abortion since a 2003 Texas law was passed.
Farrar has been outspoken about reproductive healthcare access for some time, and her main intention with this bill is not to get it passed but to get her colleagues and voters in Texas and elsewhere to reflect on the impact of anti-abortion legislation.
"What I would like to see is this make people stop and think," Farrar told The Texas Tribune. "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."