Karen Fratti
March 15, 2017 4:24 pm
Roman Stetsyk/Shutterstock

One of the most frustrating things about laws concerning a woman’s right to choose or how insurance companies fund contraception is that it’s often men who are making the decisions. To highlight this, lawmakers in Texas want to fine men for masturbating, a $100 each time, unless they do it in an approved medical facility. The bill is real, it’s called the “Man’s Right To Know” act, introduced by Rep. Jessica Farrar in response to the state’s TRAP laws that require doctors who perform abortion to have admitting privileges to a hospital or clinics to meet certain medical requirements.

Both of those sound like reasonable regulations, until you remember that clinics are already outfitted with everything they need — and most abortions are medical, which means that a woman takes a pill and goes home to rest. Furthermore, many hospitals in some states won’t even give doctors who provide abortions admitting privileges, so it turns into a totally unreasonable, unnecessarily restrictive, and possibly dangerous situation for women.

The bill reads:

Not only does the bill fine men for masturbation, it also suggests that they have a rectal exam before getting a Viagra prescription and that they be given a book called “A Man’s Right to Know” before getting a vasectomy. That’s a jab at the “Women’s Right To Know” pamphlet that Texas requires women to read (lots of very fake facts) about abortion before having one. The pamphlet erroneously links abortion to breast cancer, among other falsehoods. In addition to that, men would also be obligated to have a 24-hour “cooling down” period before getting a prescription Viagra. 

All of these requirements mirror the obstacles that women face when it comes to abortion and contraception access, which Farrar freely admits. She told CNN that she knows it won’t get very far in the legislature, but she wanted to prove a point.

Texas has some of the strictest abortion laws in the country. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 96 percent of counties in Texas had no abortion clinic, although 43 percent of the women in Texas live in them. There are seven cities in which to get an abortion in the nation’s largest state.

Some of Farrar’s male colleagues were unimpressed and suggested that she “take a biology lesson” before comparing masturbation and abortion. Obviously, they aren’t the same thing, but the joke was apparently lost on him.

Although her bill has no chance of success, it does do exactly what she intended for it, which was show how restrictive and unreasonable laws concerning women’s bodies are in the state. Can’t blame a girl for trying.

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