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Saturday, December 3, 2016

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Given the GOP’s obsession with making health care decisions for girls and women, you may have wondered how any self-respecting physician could identify with the Republican Party.

Rep. Doug Cox (R-OK) is wondering the same thing. Responding to legislation that would deny poor women contraception that would prevent abortions, Cox, a doctor, decided that he had to speak out in a letter to the The Oklahoman:

All of the new Oklahoma laws aimed at limiting abortion and contraception are great for the Republican family that lives in a gingerbread house with a two-car garage, two planned kids and a dog. In the real world, they are less than perfect.

As a practicing physician (who never has or will perform an abortion), I deal with the real world. In the real world, 15- and 16-year-olds get pregnant (sadly, 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds do also). In the real world, 62 percent of women ages 20 to 24 who give birth are unmarried. And in the world I work and live in, an unplanned pregnancy can throw up a real roadblock on a woman’s path to escaping the shackles of poverty.

Yet I cannot convince my Republican colleagues that one of the best ways to eliminate abortions is to ensure access to contraception. A recent attempt by my fellow lawmakers to prevent Medicaid dollars from covering the “morning after” pill is a case in point. Denying access to this important contraceptive is a sure way to increase legal and back-alley abortions. Moreover, such a law would discriminate against low-income women who depend on Medicaid for their health care.

Is my thinking too clouded by my experiences in the real world? Experiences like having a preacher, in the privacy of an exam room say, “Doc, you have heard me preach against abortion but now my 15-year-old daughter is pregnant, where can I send her?” Or maybe it was that 17-year-old foreign exchange student who said, “I really made a mistake last night. Can you prescribe a morning-after pill for me? If I return to my home country pregnant, life as I know it will be over.”

What happened to the Republican Party that felt that the government has no business being in an exam room, standing between me and my patient? Where did the party go that felt some decisions in a woman’s life should be made not by legislators and government, but rather by the women, her conscience, her doctor and her God?

ThinkProgress points out that Cox has a history of speaking out about his party’s policies that encourage back-alley abortions and a recent winner of Planned Parenthood’s Barry Goldwater Award.

The doctor recently suggested that his views aren’t so unpopular with Republicans in private.

“I have people who tell me they feel the way I do, but are afraid to vote the way I do,” he said.

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