If you never thought you’d hear the words masturbating and fetuses used together in a political statement, think again, because Texas Congressman Michael Burgess has just uttered the seemingly unthinkable phrase.

We didn’t think there was much left to be surprised about when it came to right-wing assertions concerning women’s rights, especially after Romney’s binders full of women and Akin’s legitimate rape, but this week has been especially stupefying.

On Wednesday we introduced you to Republican Arizona Congressman Trent Franks, who is responsible for writing up a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks (except under very limited conditions) – which was enough to have us perplexed, wondering if Franks had ever heard of Roe v. Wade.

The bill is called the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act”; unfortunately, it was passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday night. This is all apparently based on scientific evidence that fetuses can feel pain during the second trimester, but of course, the theory is dubious at best. A group called Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life testified for the bill, claiming positive accord on the issue of fetal pain, but scientists beg to differ – “A team of experts in the field of gynecology and reproductive science evaluated the legislative findings promoted by MCCL and demonstrated that there is no medical or scientific consensus on fetal pain at any stage of development and that research continues to be contradictory.” 

You don’t need to be a political pundit to guess that this bill is unlikely to become law: the Senate is Democrat-lead and President Obama has already threatened a presidential veto on Franks’s bill. You should definitely add your name to this petition by Organizing for Action’s fight for women’s health though, just in case! Because even if this particular bill doesn’t pass, the right-wing fight against abortion rights is still burgeoning.

And that’s where Michael Burgess comes in. As first reported, the Congressman wants to ban abortion even earlier than the Pain-Capable Act’s proposed 20 weeks. “This is a subject I know something about,” he says, using his past accreditation as an OB/GYN to claim scientific expertise. “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?”

Uh…so, we’re just supposed to trust this guy because he used to be a doctor on the fact that 15 weeks in, male fetuses are consciously masturbating inside the womb, therefore proving their personhood? (Also, aren’t such conservative right-wing politicians kind of against masturbation, anyway? Maybe it’s accepted because it’s a male fetus…)

Scientific evidence on fetuses pleasuring themselves is rather deficient, but there is a study that might substantiate Burgess’s opinions – that is, if he had been talking about 32 weeks, not 15. A letter to The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology demonstrates the findings of two Italian doctors who witnessed a 32-week old female fetus touching her vulva. The study doesn’t help Burgess, though: third-trimester abortions are already few and far between, mostly opposed by pro-lifers and pro-choicers alike. 

One wacky politician saying he saw a 15-week old pleasuring himself is not reliable science, and it doesn’t belong in our legislative bills or on the floor of Congress. Watch Burgess’s outlandish remarks for yourself:

 

Sources: The Atlantic, RHRealityCheck

Photos via The Atlantic, Yourbabylibrary, NYPost

Tagged in: women's reproductive rights, politics, Michael Burgess, masturbation, masturbating fetus, anti-abortion bill, abortion rights   

The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.




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