“Men’s health” bill au­thor says GOP seek­ing re­tal­i­a­tion,

Demo­crat says GOP tried to sink rou­tine mea­sure she filed.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Sean Collins Walsh scwalsh@states­man.com Con­tact Sean Collins Walsh at 512-912-2939. Twit­ter: @seancwalsh

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.

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