Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) said Monday that abortion should be banned as early as 15 weeks after conception because he has witnessed male fetuses masturbate at that stage.
RH Reality Check first reported Burgess' comments, which came during a late-night House Rules Committee hearing on a GOP bill that would ban abortions starting at 20 weeks after conception.
"This is a subject that I do know something about,” said Burgess, a former 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,” Burgess 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?"
The bill, called The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is scheduled for a House vote later Tuesday.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), the bill's author, sparked outcry last week after saying he opposed an exception for rape victims in the bill because "the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low." Members of the House Rules Committee later, and quietly, added in exceptions to the bill for rape and incest victims. It's unclear who was behind the change. A spokesperson for Franks did not return a request for comment.