“Men’s health” bill author says GOP seeking retaliation,
Democrat says GOP tried to sink routine measure she filed.
Democratic state Rep. Jessica Farrar said a group of House Republicans on Tuesday tried to kill a routine bill she authored in a retaliatory move against the satirical legislation she filed last week that mimicked GOP efforts to limit abortion through women’s health regulations and would create a fine on men who masturbate, among other provisions.
“We’re telling young women that you can grow up to be anything you want to be, except you just can’t disagree with us, with cer- tain men, Republican men,” Farrar, who represents Hous- ton, told reporters after the vote. “The arguments you heard today had nothing to do with policy. They had everything to do with, as I was told, putting a woman in her place for speaking out.”
Farrar’s House Bill 744, which would allow people suing certain types of companies to collect attorney’s fees, was approved 75-70 after a lengthy debate and procedural squabbles. Farrar said a similar bill adopted by the House last session was opposed by only eight legislators.
Every Democrat voted for the bill except state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, who was absent. They were joined by about two dozen Republicans, many of whom are top allies of House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio.
State Rep. Tan Parker, a Flower Mound Republican who chairs the House GOP caucus and voted against the bill, said the caucus’ policy committee Tuesday morning took a “neutral” stance on the measure. Parker said he was not at that meeting and declined to comment on why there was such strong opposition to the bill.
The bill would fix an oversight in state law in which people suing certain types of corporations, such as those organized as limited liabil- ity companies, are not able to collect the cost of attorney’s fees from the compa- nies if they win their cases, Farrar said.
It was meant to win wide support and cause little disrup- tion — unlike House Bill 4260, the men’s health measure, filed Friday. That bill would put restrictions on vasectomies, Viagra prescriptions and colonoscopies that mirror abortion regulations previously adopted by the Legislature and would create a $100 fine for masturbation, which it calls an “act against an unborn child, and failing to preserve the sanctity of life.”
Farrar said she thought the hoopla over her men’s health bill — it was covered by Texas media and garnered national attention — had ended until the dust-up over her attorney’s fees bill surfaced Tuesday.
“I thought it was over but we’re talking about this today because my colleagues resuscitated the issue,” she said. “Unfortunately we’ve taken a ride in a time machine and we are now back to the 1950s.”
Farrar named the bill the “Men’s Right to Know Act,” alluding to the “Wom- en’s Right to Know” pam- phlets that the Legislature has required to be distrib- uted to women seeking abor- tions. Critics have said the pamphlets include medi- cally dubious claims.
Under Texas law, women must wait 24 hours after receiving the booklet and must undergo an ultrasound before the procedure.
Other provisions of Farrar’s bill require men to receive a medically unnec- essary rectal exam and an MRI of the rectum before getting a vasectomy, Viagra prescription or colonoscopy; prevent men from suing doc- tors for refusing to provide those treatments due to “per- sonal, moralistic, or religious beliefs”; and require men to wait 24 hours after requesting the treatment before they can give consent to receive it.
The most inflammatory parts of the bill deal with “masturbatory emissions.” Among other provisions, the bill would require hospitals to employ supervising physicians for such emissions and to create a system of storing semen so that it can be used by wives for future conceptions.
“That might make some people uncomfortable but if we’re going to talk about reproductive health, you can’t talk about reproductive health without talking about semen,” she said.
State Rep. Jessica Farrar won national attention for her bill.