In a direct rebuke to laws designed to take away a woman's right to control her own body, Democratic Georgia state Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick has proposed new "Testicular Bill of Rights" legislation that would, among other things, require men to get permission from their sexual partners before obtaining erectile dysfunction medication and institute a 24-hour "waiting period" for men who want to buy porn or sex toys.
"So why did I post about drafting my 'testicular bill of rights'? It's simple. To show the absurdity when a woman tries to regulate a man's body like HB 481 and other anti-choice bills are doing in regulating women's bodies."
—Georgia state Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick
The proposal comes in response to HB 481, a so-called "heartbeat bill" passed by Republicans in the Georgia House last week that would effectively ban abortion in the state. Specifically, it would outlaw the procedure after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is usually around six weeks—before most people know they are pregnant.
In a tweet on Monday, Kendrick shared an email she wrote to her staff that outlines key elements of the legislation, which would also make men having sex without a condom an "aggravated assault" crime and force men to immediately start paying child support to their partners after six weeks and one day of pregnancy.
"I'm dead serious," Kendrick told Rolling Stone as her tweet went viral. While the lawmaker said she expects to have the legislation finalized by the end of the week, the deadline for submitting bills for this calendar year already has passed—and, as Kendrick acknowledged, "it doesn't have a chance of passing any year."
"So why did I post about drafting my 'testicular bill of rights'? It's simple,'" Kendrick wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday by Newsweek. "To show the absurdity when a woman tries to regulate a man's body like HB 481 and other anti-choice bills are doing in regulating women's bodies."
Her message resonated with Georgia voters and reproductive rights advocates who celebrated her proposal as "incredible."
This is the most incredible thing I've ever seen. In response to Georgia's proposed six week abortion ban, @DarshunKendrick has proposed a "testicular bill of rights" to control men's reproductive and sexual behavior and it is INCREDIBLE. https://t.co/JsGdNCnH9f pic.twitter.com/coffGEFt05
— Lauren Rankin (@laurenarankin) March 12, 2019
— Janhawke (@TheRealJanhawke) March 12, 2019
Currently, Georgia law allows abortions up to 20 weeks. HB 481, which Kendrick calls the "Women's Womb Takeover" bill, passed the Georgia House 93-73. If it is approved by the Senate before the legislative session ends in April, as is expected, it will head to the desk of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who has vowed to sign it.
"It's unconstitutional on purpose: this is a test case. It is a case to test Roe v. Wade."
Kendrick, in her interview with Rolling Stone, emphasized that Georgia's heartbeat bill is part of a nationwide ploy by anti-choice Republican state lawmakers to force the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its landmark 1973 ruling that protects a woman's right to have an abortion up to the point of fetal viability.
"It's unconstitutional on purpose: this is a test case. It is a case to test Roe v. Wade," she said. "They're hoping that it gets up to the Court of Appeals—the Eleventh Circuit is one of the most conservative court circuits that we have, and they're hopeful that they will uphold part of it, and then they'll take it all the way to the Supreme Court."
The Democrat also posited that the anti-choice bill "is indicative of the people in power being scared that the tides are turning and we are going blue."
"As with most things, they are trying to rush it through because they know that it's on the horizon," Kendrick said, noting that several Georgia legislative seats have already flipped. "But if I am still here when Democrats take over, [the heartbeat bill] will be the first bill that I overturn if it's not overturned already."
In the meantime, reproductive rights advocates continue to protest against the heartbeat bill:
— Shannon “Badass Cross Stitch” Downey (@ShannonDowney) March 12, 2019
Georgia Republicans are one of several states trying to ram through 6 week abortion ban bills. Advocates and organizers are taking a stand against #HB481 #NoAbortionBansGA #PissedOffPeaches pic.twitter.com/k4Sb9IWuuv
— Freeborn Black Woman First of Her Name (@TheWayWithAnoa) March 11, 2019
GA lawmakers wanna restrict abortion to 6 wks (before most women even know they're pregnant.) The right to family & reproductive planning is inalienable. PERIOD.
— CiCi Adams (@CiCiAdams_) March 12, 2019