Is There A Doctor in the House?
[h/t for the scientific drawing from Cartoon Mario]
Don’t worry . . . this doctor is not a real representative, he just plays one at tea parties. Meet Dr. Michael Burgess, OB/Gyn, author* and US Representative (R-TX) from the Loon Star State. Dr Burgess has served in the House since 2002, chairing the Congressional Health Care caucus, of which he is the only official member, and serving in the House TEA Party Caucus.
Recently, Dr Burgess has grabbed our attention during the House Republicans’ most recent sortie in its War on Women, with his rather prurient, if unscientific, theory that male fetuses spend a good bit of time “spanking the monkey” while in the womb.
[*Burgess, Michael (2011). Doctor in the House: A Physician-Turned-Congressman Offers His Prescription for Scrapping Obamacare – and Saving America’s Medical System. Midpoint Trade Books. ISBN 978-1-936488-25-4. Retrieved 2011-11-16.]
Dr Burgess presented his theory during a House Rules committee debate on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy:
“This is a subject that I do know something about,” Burgess said, citing his experience as an OB/GYN. “There is no question in my mind that a baby at 20-weeks after conception can feel pain. The fact of the matter is, I argue with the chairman because I thought the date was far too late. We should be setting this at 15-weeks, 16-weeks.”
“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful,” he continued. “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?”
I guess Dr Burgess was far too busy representing to keep up with the actual science regarding this issue. The bill is based on a grand total of one scientifically-disputed study, touted by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) that asserts fetuses can feel pain as early as 20 weeks after sperm meets egg.
As Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the Rules Committee’s ranking member, in her questioning of Goodlatte said “Well, I think all the members are cognizant of the fact that this is not a Congress that cares much about science.”
Major medical bodies in the United States and the United Kingdom have refuted the claim of fetal pain before the third trimester.
“The suggestion that a fetus at 20 weeks can feel pain is inconsistent with the biological evidence,” said Dr. David A. Grimes, a prominent researcher and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “To suggest that pain can be perceived without a cerebral cortex is also inconsistent with the definition of pain.”
In one recent review, in March 2010, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in Britain said of the brain development of fetuses: “Connections from the periphery to the cortex are not intact before 24 weeks of gestation and, as most neuroscientists believe that the cortex is necessary for pain perception, it can be concluded that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation.”
Science aside, though, it’s more than a little creepy to me that Dr Burgess sees fapping fetuses behind every placenta, and that he purports to know exactly what male fetuses are doing when a fetal arm happens to land between fetal legs—how does he know it doesn’t just have an itch? or, even more likely, that its brain isn’t developed enough to carry out the tickle the pickle operation. [I’m wondering if Dr Burgess doesn’t have a few unresolved fetal sex issues?]
The other thing? what about female fetuses? don’t they take matters into their own hands? are they too demure? and, if they don’t pleasure themselves, do they feel pain? or does this mean we can continue to abort female fetuses, just not male ones?
The reason that this insanity is in any way important is that, if passed and signed into law, such a law would present a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. Right now, there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of this kind of sophomoric legislation being enacted as written—a good reason for Democrats to get out the vote for 2014 midterms.
I don’t have much more to say about this because, to be honest, I’m suffering from a touch of GSE [GOP Stupidity Exhaustion]. But I do have to wonder what it’s like to live inside the head of a man who has the smarts to get through medical school and a residency at a large urban hospital (Parkland Memorial in Dallas) and then wakes up one day spouting such silly drivel and making a public ass of himself to get re-elected.
What’s that like?
Oh well, nice pick, Texas.