To make her point about how far Republicans will go to block abortion access under the guise of protecting women, Houston Rep. Jessica Farrar has filed the satirical A Man’s Right to Know Act, which would fine men for masturbating and impose mandatory waiting periods and counseling before they could receive a vasectomy, colonoscopy, or a Viagra prescription.
A Man’s Right to Know parodies the same obstacles women in Texas face when trying to get an abortion, which, according to the Guttmacher Institute, include: undergoing a mandatory consultation 24 hours before obtaining the procedure, viewing an ultrasound of the fetus, receiving counseling that discourages abortions, denial of public financial assistance unless the pregnancy endangers their life or resulted from rape or incest, and banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the medically unsupported idea that the fetus can feel pain at that time.
Though the Supreme Court struck down parts of anti-abortion law HB2 last year as unconstitutional, Texas Republicans continue to attack abortion rights. After a federal court blocked a similar bill in January, the Texas House Committee on State Affairs is considering a bill that would require fetal remains to be buried or cremated. Another proposed Texas Senate bill would allow doctors to withhold information about a fetal abnormality or disability if they believe that knowledge would affect a woman’s decision to have an abortion. In January, State Rep. Tony Tinderholt introduced the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act, which would charge women and their providers with murder for obtaining an abortion (including instances of rape or incest). He defended the bill by saying it will force women to be “more personally responsible”and “consider the repercussions of the sexual relationship that they’re gonna have, which is a child.”
But if Republicans are so worried about the unborn children, shouldn’t they be just as concerned about the sexual habits of men? According to the Man’s Right to Know Act, men are only permitted to ejaculate directly into a woman’s vagina. All other emissions would be considered “an act against an unborn child” and men would be fined $100 for “failing to preserve the sanctity of life.” If enacted, all ejaculated semen will be stored in medical facilities “for the purposes of conception” with a future or current wife, and the state will establish a registry of hospitals and nonprofit organizations that offer “fully-abstinent encouragement counseling, supervising physicians for masturbatory emissions, and storage for the semen.” The fees collected will go towards towards children monitored by the Department of Family Protective Services “in order to assist in the assertion of the importance of the sanctity of life.”
Additionally, any man seeking a vasectomy, Viagra prescription, or colonoscopy must undergo a consultation 24 hours in advance of receiving the procedure or prescription. The consultation will include a mandatory but “medically unnecessary” rectum exam with “magnetic resonance imagining of the rectum” and an illustrated booklet called “A Man’s Right to Know.” The booklet is based upon A Woman’s Right to Know, a book Texas doctors are ordered to provide women seeking an abortion according to a 2003 informed consent law. Men must provide “voluntary and informed consent,” but ultimately doctors are allowed to refuse to fulfill their health requests and even misinform patients according to their “personal, moralistic, or religious beliefs.”
“A lot of people find the bill funny,” Farrar told The Houston Chronicle about the bill. “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.”
Tinderholt is not amused. “I’m embarrassed for Representative Farrar,” he told The Texas Tribune. “Her attempt to compare [HB 4260] 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.”
But Tinderholt isn’t Farrar’s audience. “What I would like to see is this make people stop and think,” she told the 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.”