Once again, by majority vote, male pleasure trumps a woman’s choice. And once again, male stupidity by an elected official, who also happens to be a doctor with an ob-gyn specialty, batters science and common sense.
What was declared in the House as a noble act of morality got creepy and prurient when Texas Congress member Michael C. Burgess (R-TX-26) told America, from the well of the House, that, while watching sonograms with patients and in the privacy of his office, he has viewed 15-week-old male fetuses jack off (masturbate!). The fetuses put their hands between their legs, Burgess recounted, and “pleasured themselves.”
At 15 weeks, the time of Burgess’ observation, the typical fetus is 4 ½ inches long and weighs 3 ounces.
Burgess, born in Minnesota, trained at Dallas’ famed Parklawn Memorial, holds Dick Armey’s old Texas seat. He has joined South Carolina Representative Trey Growdy (SC-4) in questioning the President’s citizenship. Two years ago, Burgess regularly discussed Obama’s impeachment with constituents. In Congress, he authored a bill to defund the mandate for green, energy-efficient light bulbs.
But he fully supports the “pain-capable unborn child.” Or in his case, the pleasure-capable 4-inch fetus. At 20 weeks, the gestational limit targeted for abortion bans in Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ-8) House-passed bill No. 1797, the average fetus is 10 ½ inches long and weighs 6 ½ ounces.
Questions flood in: If the fetus is a protected life, as the legislation defines, doesn’t he or she have a right to privacy? Did Burgess’ observation, even with parental consent, violate that right?
The more important question is: Did he turn away or did he also watch sonograms of little 15-20-week-old girls? Was his watching these sonograms clinically neutral, or, given his conclusions, is he now the first confessed, self-outed, prenatal pedophile?
Does he still have the sonograms? Are they on his hard drive?
Another medical question: Would you entrust a doctor for the care of your unborn child who has a habit of assigning adult sexual activity to the unborn? To a doctor who acknowledges watching, more than one once, gestures to which his adult brain assigns genital pleasure?
Yet with Mother’s Day as a backdrop, Burgess and Congress member Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) introduced the Gestational Diabetes (GEDI) Act of 2013, a sound idea. The American Diabetes Association says to up 18 percent of pregnancies, 135,000 women, are affected by gestational diabetes. The GEDI Act aims to lower its incidence and prevent women and children with this condition from developing Type 2 diabetes. Burgess’ bipartisan bill would provide grants and fund research projects within the Centers for Disease Control diabetes program.
But his masturbating fetus claim is bizarre and represents a new level of medical and ethical weirdness.
This weirdness is common. As the House passed Franks’ bill, HR 1797, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (by 228-196), a bill to make nearly all abortions after 20 weeks illegal, similar laws have already passed in 11 states in the last three years.
Burgess is not alone. Rep. Franks’ remarks on rape while discussing the bill the week before were so controversial that for the bill’s floor debate, he was sidelined. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7) managed the floor debate for the GOP.
One of the bill’s supporters was Rep. Scott Desjarlais (R-TN-4) whose ex-wife had two abortions during their marriage, the last connected to his infidelity. He said, “I think there were regrets both ways.”
“I think?” Having at first denied it, Rep. Desjarlais admitted he stuck a loaded gun in his mouth for over an hour, threatening suicide when he realized his martial breaches could not be repaired.
At the time, Desjarlais was the chief of staff at the local hospital. His sex affairs included employees he had authority over, and his patients. Both are egregious violations of professional ethics and a variety of legal statutes, and involve serious admissions of misconduct that he once claimed were “all false.”
A dispute remains over one domestic incident: whether he dry-fired a revolver outside of a bedroom with his wife inside or whether he spun an empty chamber.
This year in March, the State Medical Society fined him $250 each for two separate incidents of having sex with his patients. (One to whom he also recommended an abortion when he thought she might be pregnant.) No action has been taken about his affairs with employees.
He voted for the Franks bill.
During the past decade, Republicans in the House have also had many significant incidents of inappropriate sexual conduct with minors, including paid and consensual same-sex affairs. Mark Foley, Ed Schrock, David Dreier are among GOP House members who have been forced to acknowledge or have been associated with strong evidence of same-sex affairs.
Labeled as hypocrisy, it is not. Theirs is neither shame or embarrassment; they embrace the dark side as a perfectly legitimate right of opportunity. Republicans have a behavioral and ideological preference for compartmentalizing their personalities, lusts, and pleasures; their relationships and behaviors; their positions and policies. For them, democracy encourages and allows the freedom to build parallel hidden stories, and participate in public-private contradictions that heighten dangers and thrills. Discovery has no consequences except the loss of thrill.
Look carefully: for Republicans, democracy is the right to unfettered self-invention. Freedom is the freedom to conceal. Liberty is the right to deny accountability. The common good is a balance sheet. Society can set no limits or requirements on personal conduct.
Their world view carries with it the right to lie. The right to shed ethics. Its ideal is an “I” that will have no fear or shame at duplicity, or humility about contradictions of values—or recognize any case in which integrating truth into life makes one more whole and free.
It is not hypocrisy if you prefer a world of subterfuge and secrecy rather than a world of transparency. If you revel in the secret chambers and the intimacy of shadows, if you are hiding not out of fear or shame, but a sense of power that sees you as ruler of the several worlds you claim and operate in accord with your own rules.
Coming out takes the power away of mystery and secrecy and actually deflates their self-actualization. They don’t see their attitudes and behaviors, their conversations as contradictions or hypocrisy; they see their positions as an entitlement of privilege.
A large part of that actualization is the desire to control women’s bodies and force women into submission, taking away the right of choice they so relish in their own sorted lives. The thing they love is precisely the thing they seek to deny to women.
So their fascination isn’t about jobs or families, education or innovation, budgets or deficits. It’s singularly focused on preserving the power of choice and how it is enabled for who and for what reasons.
Whether it is healthcare or social security, or women’s right to choose, it means keeping secret and limited the dark powers of freedom by taking away their light. Choice is naughty and they refuse to share. Especially with those who have different purposes, who want to step out of the darkness into the light.
“Last month, the House Judiciary Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent separatequeries to all 50 states about abortion practices and the enforcement of current laws.”
For Republicans, it defies common sense if others have the same right.