Sometimes, the best way to make a point is through comedy.
This was the thinking of Jessica Farrar, a democratic representative from Houston who introduced a bill called “Man’s Right to Know” Act to the Texas House of Representatives on March 10. In it, she drafted legislation to mimic Texas’s existing laws concerning women’s reproductive rights and access to abortions. She doesn’t intend for the bill to pass;”What I would like to see is this make people stop and think,” Farrar told The Texas Tribune.
Farrar’s bill (pdf) is brief, but what it lacks in lengths it makes up for in outlandish demands. It requires that all men be penalized $100 for any semen they produce outside of copulation, which “will be considered an act against an unborn child” because it was not used to create life. It also mandates that all men seeking any kind of reproductive health procedures or medication—like a vasectomy or Viagra—must receive a hefty informational packet—with “artistic illustrations of each procedure”—that their doctors go through with them. Then, they have to wait 24 hours before receiving it.
All the “Man’s Right to Know” Act does is flip the gender on the legislation passed in 2011 for women seeking abortions in Texas. But the craziest thing about Farrar’s bill is that it only touches on some of the aspects of the original bill. For example, the “Woman’s Right to Know” act mandates that women seeking abortions must be presented with “color pictures representing the development of the child at two-week gestational increments. The pictures must contain the dimensions of the unborn child and must be realistic.” Physicians must also fully inform women of “any relevant information on the possibility of the unborn child ’s survival,” which is undoubtedly intended to make a woman question her choice to terminate her pregnancy.
Additionally, it states that offices that perform abortions must be more than 1,500 feet away from churches or schools. The bill also states that physicians who violate any part of the act face a $10,000 penalty. Although arguably these additions make it only marginally more difficult for women to obtain abortions, when access to abortion are already limited they may block women from terminating their unwanted pregnancies.
Farrar told the Houston Chronicle that she drafted the bill after being fed up seeing so many men draft legislation limiting women’s reproductive rights. “A lot of people find the bill funny,” she said. “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 healthcare.”
Tony Tinderholdt, a republican representative from Arlington, told the Texas Tribune that Farrar’s bill “shows a lack of a basic understanding of human biology.” In January of this year, Tinderholdt introduced a bill that would make abortions completely illegal in Texas and charge doctors who performed them with murder. (It hasn’t yet been passed.) “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,” he told the Texas Tribune.
It’s unlikely that Farrar would learn much in such a class. A study from last month found that the majority of public schools in Texas teach abstinence-only sexual education, which skips over contraception, and a quarter of them don’t teach sex-ed at all.