AUSTIN, Texas (AP/CNN) — A Texas lawmaker is making a point about legislation that restricts women’s access to health care and abortions by proposing to fine men $100 when they masturbate.
Alongside the penalty for wasting semen not resulting in a pregnancy, state Rep. Jessica Farrar’s bill would require a “medically unnecessary digital rectal exam” and a 24-hour waiting period before any man undergoes a vasectomy or can be prescribed Viagra.
The 11th term Democrat tells local news her bill mimics how a woman seeking an abortion is forced by Texas law to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, which “has nothing to do with her health care.”
She says she knows her bill isn’t going to get very far. But she proposed it last week to make a point and give male lawmakers a taste of their own medicine.
Farrar has long been an advocate of women’s health in a state that has made it extremely difficult for women to get abortions. And the bill, by pointing out a sexist double standard, is meant to shine a light on the obstacles women deal with when it comes to their health care.
Even the name is a jab
Farrar’s bill would penalize men for masturbation because such behavior is a failure to preserve the sanctity of life and “an act against an unborn child.”
Even the bill’s name — “A Man’s Right to Know Act” — is a jab at a pamphlet Texas doctors are required to give women seeking abortions.
That pamphlet, “A Woman’s Right to Know,” has long been criticized for being inaccurate, ideologically influenced by religion and designed to discourage women from getting abortions.
One section of the pamphlet says breast cancer and abortions are linked. Scientific studies have found no cause-and-effect relationship between the two.
“We have real lives to deal with,” says Farrar, who pointed out that Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world.
And she’s right — the rate of women who died from pregnancy-related complications doubled from 2010 to 2014, according to a recent study.
Backlash from political opponents
Republicans have lashed out at Farrar’s bill.
“I’m embarrassed for Representative Farrar. Her attempt to compare to the abortion issue shows a lack of a basic understanding of human biology,” says Rep. Tony Tinderholt in a statement.
“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.”
Tinderholt recently proposed a bill that would charge abortion providers and women receiving abortions with murder.