Congressman Michael Burgess was not well known outside of Texas, where he represents the 26th district, until he gave a heartfelt explanation of why he believes that abortion should be illegal at around 15 or 16 weeks. It's because they feel pain. How does he know this? Well, because fetuses can feel pleasure at 20 weeks. How does Burgess know that? Because, as a former OB/GYN, he has seen male fetuses masturbate.
"Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful,” Burgess explained. “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 think that they could feel pain?"
Okay. Where to begin with this one. How about this: why just male fetuses? Do women only start masturbating when they are out of the womb? Burgess does know that women masturbate, right?
And why is this the second thing he thought of? So, fetuses make purposeful movements, like, say, they might have an itch on their face, so they stroke their face, or they might be feeling some evolutionarily useless sexual desires that, at 20 weeks, they have figured out how to satisfy. Does he not realize that this is a bizarre argument to pull out here? Has he been sitting on the fetal masturbation concept for a long time, waiting to give it its moment?
Fetal viability is the current line established by Roe v. Wade for when an abortion is no longer legal. The anti-abortion movement is pushing to move that line to when a fetus can feel pain. Whether we should have laws based on something as difficult to determine in an objective way is an open question. Whether that is a good standard is an open question. Whether these decisions should be made across the board by lawmakers or on an individual basis by people and their doctors (and whoever else they choose to consult), is also an open question.
Whether or not fetuses masturbate...that's more open for mockery than question.
And seriously, why only male fetuses?