A frightening number of conservative politicians who gleefully support anti-abortion legislation and make horrifically incorrect statements about women's bodies are also OB-GYNS. Get to know your friendly lady-hating, M.D.-holding representatives so you'll be prepared if one of them tries to get your vote or stick a speculum up your crotch.
Dr. Michael Burgess, Dr. Tom Coburn, Dr. Phil Gingrey and Dr. Phil Roe all currently hold political office. They also collectively possess around a century of OB-GYN medical experience. What did female reproductive organs ever do to these men to make them so angry? But really: why do so many male OB-GYNs run for office and spend a significant amount of time pushing anti-women legislation?
The phenomenon "demonstrates the ability of political aspirations to trump scientific evidence and training," said Dr. Willie Parker, an Washington, D.C.-based OB-GYN who also works at the lone remaining abortion care clinic in Jackson, Mississippi. "These men know as well as anyone else what the evidence basis shows for most of the decisions they're making, but when it comes to politics, evidence doesn't seem to matter." By turning a blind eye, the politicians "are more dangerous because they have scientific and moral authority with the public as trained scientists," Parker said.
Some other doctors we spoke with noted that all four politicians are old dudes who probably (and purposefully) haven't kept up with the times. Dr. Suzanne Poppema recalled learning that women's vaginas and cervixes didn't have any nerve endings when she got her MD at Harvard in 1974. "It doesn't seem like much has changed since then, judging by these politicians," she said. "It's embarrassing."
Poppema, a retired abortion provider, associate professor of family medicine and the former chair of the board of the National Abortion Federation, said men who go into the OB-GYN field have always had a reputation for being "neither the best nor the brightest" folks. Why are they lured by the female reproductive system? "Maybe so they can have power over women," she mused.
And no better place to gain that power than the House and Senate! Here are the men legislating your uterus even though they should know better.
Michael Burgess, M.D., Thinks Your Fetus Is Masturbating
According to his official bio, the Texas Republican congressman spent 25 years practicing medicine as an OB-GYN in North Texas before he was first elected to Congress in 2002. He was unfortunately re-elected in 2004, 2006, 2008, and most recently in 2010. His political record proves that those 25 years he spent around women made him very protective...of "unborn children." Here are his thoughts on abortion from his website:
"I believe that human life is precious, and that government should protect innocent human life, not assist in its destruction. I am a member of the Values Action Team and the Pro-life Caucus, and I will support legislation to protect the rights of unborn children. Having dedicated more than 25 years of my life to a pro-life obstetrics practice, I believe that the United States Constitution is very clear when it guarantees a right to life."
Burgess argued this week that we should ban abortion after 20 weeks because male fetuses are masturbating in the womb by 15 weeks and therefore feel both "pleasure" and pain. This is a doctor speaking:
“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful. 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 believe that they could feel pain?”
Burgess has also voted twice to block Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funds, voted to allow hospitals to refuse to provide emergency abortion care to women who could die without it, and voted to ban abortion coverage in state health-insurance exchanges, among other fun stuff. You can check out his full voting record on abortion here.
Tom A. Coburn, M.D., Would Like Abortionists to Die, Please
Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, has been a Senator since 2004. His official bio states that one of his chief priorities is "protecting the sanctity of all human life — including the unborn." (Also that "he has offered more amendments than any of his colleagues" — Uh, cool? — including one to eliminate funding for the "Woodstock Museum" in New York. What a party pooper.) He graduated from the University of Oklahoma Medical School in 1983 and still specializes in family medicine and obstetrics.
Coburn says he's "personally delivered" more than 4,000 babies; we wonder where he found the time given his passion for forcing women to carry to term. He's bragged that he is "one of the original authors" of the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act upheld by the Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart. NARAL calls him "one of the most virulently anti-choice members of Congress" in part because of a quote he gave the Associated Press during his 2004 Senate campaign: "I favor the death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life." Super pro-life, this guy.
Earlier this year, Coburn introduced a bill to ban abortion coverage under the Affordable Care Act to "ensure none of the newly-created multi-state plans forces any American to pay for elective abortions." Can't wait to see what he comes up with next. You can check out his full voting record on abortion here.
Phil Gingrey, M.D., Is a Legitimate Rape Truther
Republican John Phillip "Phil" Gingrey has been a Georgia Rep. since 2003. According to his bio, Gingrey graduated from the Medical College of Georgia before setting up a pro-life OB-GYN practice, where he worked for 26 years and delivered more than 5,200 babies. One of his primary goals is to "fight for the life of the unborn." We're so glad that he's Chairman of the GOP Doctors Caucus, which means he "works with 21 medical providers in Congress to develop patient centered, patient driven healthcare reforms focused on quality, access, affordability, portability, and choice." Note that last word.
Earlier this year, Gingrey defended Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" remarks; the media had overreacted, he said, because Akin had been "partially right" about a women's body having ways of shutting down. Trust him! He's a doctor!
"And I've delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, ‘Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don't be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.' So he was partially right wasn't he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you're not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman's body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart."
We need to drink a bottle (or two) of wine after reading that. You can check out Gingrey's voting record on abortion here.
Phil Roe, M.D., Isn't Just a Complainer
Roe has served as a Republican Tennessee Rep. since 2009. According to his bio, he got his medical degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in 1972 and was an OB-GYN for 31 years before retiring and unfortunately going into politics. He wants you to know that he's delivered close to 5,000 babies, which is why he strongly supports "the sanctity of life. As your congressman and as a member of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, I will always be a strong and constant voice for the right to life." Awesome. He's also a member of the Physicians’ Caucus and the Health Caucus. Goody.
Roe once gave the American Medical Association some advice for members of the medical community thinking about becoming involved in politics: "I would suggest you become part of the solution instead of just sitting on the sidelines and complaining." He's definitely a doer, not a complainer. Other noteworthy lines from his bio include "History shows that direct federal funding for abortion increase the number of abortions. Abortion is not health care; it is a brutal procedure that ends the lives of unborn children and wounds their mothers." and "If government has any legitimate function at all, it is to protect the most innocent among us, and I will do my best to uphold that protection." So basically: Roe got into politics to fight Roe v. Wade. (No relation. Obviously.)
Roe has cosponsored and voted for passage of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and is also a cosponsor of H.R. 61 and H.R. 217, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, both of which prohibit organizations that offer abortions from receiving Title X family planning funds. Find out more about all the hard work he's doing to set back the clock here. We'll leave you with one more quote from his
bio anti-abortion diatribe: "We must make our laws consistent with our science and provide full legal protections to the unborn." Ah, yes. Science.
Doctors are supposed to prioritize facts over feelings. They're "ethically obligated to offer timely and science-based care options to women," says Hal C. Lawrence, M.D., Executive Vice President of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Lawrence told us in an email that ACOG "firmly opposes legislative interference by politicians, including those who are physicians, especially when policymakers’ decisions negatively affect the individual patient-doctor relationship.” That's all well and good. But given the positions of political power these crackpot doctors hold — and their zealous passion for controlling women's reproductive organs — it's time to do something more than express disapproval.