If you’re a Republican who doesn’t recognize the Republican party anymore, your name is probably Oklahoma State Rep. Doug Cox. The pro-life politician recently wrote a letter to his GOP comrades, asking essentially, ‘Why are you so obsessed with controlling the vagina, man?’
Writing in response to proposal to ban Medicaid coverage for emergency contraception and allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control, Cox asked, ”What happened to the Republican Party that I joined? The party where conservative presidential candidate Barry Goldwater felt women should have the right to control their own destiny?” On the House floor this week, Cox blasted his colleagues for pushing Texas-style restrictions on providers and regulations around emergency contraception that he called “prejudiced against women.”
Maybe Cox seems to understand the ladies because he is an emergency physician himself who has delivered about 800 babies, he told Salon. And though he’s pro-life, he still supports a woman’s decision to make her own medical choices. He's never performed an abortion, nor does he want to, but he does want to be able to tell a woman where she can have the procedure done in Oklahoma, if needed.
The Congressman spoke to the site about his home state's newest “Texas-style” restrictions on abortion providers, here are the high points.
On the Oklahoma bill:
The bill here in Oklahoma places the Board of Health in charge of setting standards and protocol for abortion clinics. First of all, it is totally unnecessary. It is put out here under the guise of, “We are trying to protect the health of patients.” When in reality we all know this is nothing more than an attempt to throw up barriers to women’s access to abortion services.
I’ve delivered 800 babies. Never performed an abortion and never will — but I hate unnecessary legislation. And this is totally unnecessary.
On his political colleagues ignoring his opposition to the bill, despite his experience as a physician, and being afraid to support him in public:
A number of them have come to me in private to say, “We understand your arguments, we respect your arguments, we wish we could vote that way but we’re afraid to.” Oklahoma is such a conservative state, and such a pro-life state. It’s easy for me as a physician to stand up and explain in lay terms why I voted the way that I voted. They have a little bit more difficulty doing that, and they’re so afraid of being labeled as pro-choice in a very conservative state, that they’re just afraid to vote their conscience.
On his Oklahoma constituents and colleagues approach to abortion:
And the interesting thing is my colleagues are so afraid of going home and facing their district. But I can honestly say, even as a physician, that I have never — and I have been here 10 years — had a person upset over my vote on these issues. My constituents — and I dare say the constituents of my colleagues — are more worried about jobs, they’re more worried about being able to afford food and clothes for their family, they’re more worried about what they’re gonna do if they get sick with no healthcare.
Abortion is not high on their radar screen. Now, when it does become high on someone’s radar screen is when their 14-year-old daughter gets pregnant. That’s where I’ve had conversations that non-physician members [of the state Legislature] have never had. Behind the closed door of an exam room, when I have that parent with that daughter there saying, “I’ve never viewed myself as pro-choice. I’ve never supported abortion. But my daughter’s 14 years old and she’s pregnant. We talked about it, we prayed about it, and we think she wants to have the pregnancy terminated. Where can I go?”
On conflating Plan B with abortion in another Oklahoma measure up for discussion:
To me, to equate a morning-after pill with an abortion is irresponsible.
The only thing a woman knows in these situations is that she’s had unprotected intercourse and that there’s a risk of pregnancy. She doesn’t know that she’s pregnant because there’s no way to know — even a blood test is not positive that quick. The chances of her being pregnant are pretty slim, but why take that chance when you can prevent it with a pill? Just like you can prevent it with an IUD, which you don’t hear people railing against IUDs, but I suppose that will be next. [Editor's note: Sadly, people are railing against IUDs.]
But I find it very discriminatory that a 14-year-old boy can stop in a truck stop and buy all the condoms that he wants, where he can control his destiny, and yet we’re taking a choice of controlling her own destiny away from a female.
I don’t know about you, but from this interview, I think I have a Cox crush. Yes, I realize how that sounds.
Image via AP.