State Rep. Doug Cox was the only Republican to speak out against a sweeping "personhood" bill currently in the Oklahoma legislature. "We keep passing stuff like this, they'll be done in back alleys with coat hangers, people," said Cox, an emergency room physician, at the Oklahoma House of Representative's Public Health Committee hearing on the bill in February.
In the wake of his outspoken remarks, Cox's Facebook wall was deluged in comments, but not of the kind you might expect. Normally when a lawmaker breaks ranks with their party the cries of RINO (or DINO) flow thick and fast.
Instead, Cox's Facebook page has been inundated with grateful comments from Oklahomans and others. "Thank you Dr. Cox, for standing up for women's rights, and the right to control their destiny." wrote Wendy Hutlgren.
Many of the commenters identified themselves as former Republicans. "I joined the Republican party because I was taught they stood for limited government involvement. I am so glad you are speaking up for this belief," wrote Anderson Dark.
Some comments referenced an interview Cox gave last week, which sparked an online furore. "What happened to the Republican party I joined?" asked Cox in the interview. "The party where conservative presidential candidate Barry Goldwater felt women should have the right to control their own destiny?"
Rep. Cox doesn't seem to be keeping his Facebook page active (his last post dates from 2009), but that hasn't deterred his new-found supporters.
Cox was the only medically-qualified person on the Oklahoma House committee that passed the bill 7-3 (the other 2 opposing votes were Democrats). He says that he doesn't identify as pro-choice. But unlike other legislators, he can speak from a position of knowledge about abortion and women's health:
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?"
Now, I've never performed an abortion, but I can tell them where to go. And if my colleagues have their way, that place would not be in Oklahoma, which effectively is going to close that choice to low-income people.
"[Abortions] are done in clinics inspected by the Health Department under sterile, medical conditions," Cox told Oklahoma News. "This bill basically is trying to intimidate the providers who do those."