‘What happened to the Republican Party that I joined?’

Oklahoma state Rep. Doug Cox (R)
Oklahoma state Rep. Doug Cox (R)
Associated Press

Last week, a deadly tornado did serious damage in Oklahoma, leaving 24 people dead. Just two days later, Oklahoma state senators got to work – defunding Planned Parenthood.

Oklahoma state Rep. Doug Cox (R), an obstetrician, published a piece today in The Oklahoman asking whether his Republican colleagues live in “the real world.”

…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.

But wait, some lawmakers want to go even further and limit everyone’s access to birth control by allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for contraception.

After lamenting his own party’s culture-war agenda, Cox goes on to ask, “What happened to the Republican Party that I joined? … 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?”

I’m certainly sympathetic to Cox’s concerns, and I’m glad he’s speaking up in such a direct and forceful way. His message is one his party clearly needs to hear.

But I confess to being puzzled when Cox asks “what happened” to his Republican Party.

My sympathies for his perspective notwithstanding, is he just now realizing that the contemporary GOP is aggressively hostile towards women’s reproductive rights? Is he just now noticing that Republicans at the state and federal level reject emergency contraception and access to birth control?

The point isn’t that Cox is wrong on the merits – on the contrary, it’s always heartening to hear from a red-state Republican who’s uncomfortable with the GOP’s culture-war agenda as it relates to reproductive rights – but rather, it’s a little late in the game for a state representative to wonder aloud “what happened” to the Republican Party that adopted its far-right positions years ago.

War onWomen, Reproductive Rights and Okalahoma

'What happened to the Republican Party that I joined?'