Last month, Democratic Representative Jessica Farrar introduced satirical bill H.B. 4260, or the Man's Right to Know Act, to the Texas legislature. After a first reading in the House, the bill has moved on to the State Affairs Committee. The so-called "masturbation bill" made headlines by proposing that men be fined $100 for every time they ejaculate outside of a woman.
#HB4260, “A Man's Right to Know," mirrors real TX laws and health care restrictions faced by TX women every #txlege session. — Jessica Farrar (@JFarrarDist148) March 11, 2017
The bill's purpose was to draw attention to the double standards and unfair burdens placed on women seeking reproductive health care by flipping the tables on some of the more inscrutable requirements women face, like unnecessary and invasive vaginal exams and ultrasounds, mandatory waiting periods before abortions, unwanted counseling on reproductive choices, and restricted access to birth control. Texas in particular has some pretty stringent laws, and by mid-January of this year legislators had already introduced eight new anti-abortion bills.
The Man's Right to Know Act, a direct response to the Women's Right to Know Act, proposed unnecessary rectal exams for men, waiting periods before getting vasectomies and Viagra prescriptions, required counseling by doctors about reproductive choices, and the infamous masturbation penalty. That last clause was likely a direct response to a bill that would require women to bury or cremate the remains of an abortion or miscarriage.
"There are inconsistencies in their [GOP lawmakers'] argument about the sanctity of life," Farrar told Mic. "If this is really about the sanctity of life, semen is a really important piece to that formula and we can't be wasting it, if that's the case. It should be used for what it was meant to be used for and that is to create life."
Professor of government at American University and director of the Women and Politics Institute Jennifer Lawless told Broadly, "It's not that these bills are written to be satirical, but the fact that they are considered satirical demonstrates the double standard."