The Latest Argument for Banning Abortion? Fetuses Masturbate.

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
June 18 2013 12:09 PM

Texas Congressman Says Fetuses Have Rights Because They Masturbate

Later Tuesday the House will vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a GOP-sponsored bill that aims to ban abortion after 22 weeks. As painful as the ongoing Republican battle to restrict access to abortion is, at least it's creating multiple opportunities for conservative legislators to share with the larger world their rather strange views. The latest politician to cause one to wonder what it is they're teaching in medical school is doctor-turned-Rep. Michael Burgess from (naturally) Texas, who trotted out a novel argument during a hearing on the GOP's proposed ban. Burgess argued that abortion needs to be banned even earlier, at 15 or 16 weeks, because:

Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful. They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?

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The bill is expected to pass the House but has no chance in the Senate or with the president, which means that perhaps after this one dies, Burgess will be the inspiration for the next bill: Masturbation-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which under the Burgess "making it up as you go along" scientific standard will only apply to male fetuses, as female fetuses are definitely too modest to even consider such filthy behavior. (Scary side note: Burgess was actually a gynecologist before he decided to go into politics.) 

Of course, what all this debate over pain and masturbation is meant to distract from is the very real, utterly indisputable fact that women feel pain: the pain of being so poor that you couldn't get the money together until 20 weeks for an abortion, the pain of being in denial about being raped and pregnant, the pain of discovering at 20 weeks that your fetus has serious birth defects. Also, if we're going be doling out human rights based on who touches themselves to feel good, let's start with actual born women. 

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.