Many Republican politicians seem to think that they're qualified to make decisions on women's reproductive health care, but State Representative Doug Cox (R-Okla.) actually is. Cox spoke out last week against a proposed bill that would eliminate the judicial bypass system for young victims of incest and violence seeking abortion care, while increasing reporting requirements for health care providers.
Why did this Republican (a representative in a heavily anti-abortion state, no less) defy every stereotype we have about abortion politics? Well, unlike most politicians who try to legislate women’s health care, he’s an actual medical doctor.
“We keep passing stuff like this, they'll be done in back alleys with coat hangers, people,” said Cox during the House of Representative’s Public Health Committee hearing on the bill last week.
“[Abortions] are done in clinics inspected by the Health Department under sterile, medical conditions,” Cox continued. “This bill basically is trying to intimidate the providers who do those.”
The committee voted 7-3 to approve the bill, which will make it harder for women under 18 to obtain an abortion without parental notification. Most state parental notification laws allow for a process known as judicial bypass that allows young women who have abusive domestic situations to obtain permission from a judge to receive abortion care. The bill will now proceed to the floor of the House.
Rep. Doug Cox’s defense of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable young women, and of his fellow health care professionals who provide them with important medical services during times of great duress, was bold. Republicans have gotten in a lot of trouble recently for pushing legislation that ignores the health care needs of female victims of rape and incest. Let’s hope other Republicans follow suit, or that we can get more doctors like Dr. Cox in state legislatures.