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MS. KELLY: Well, President Obama better get ready for a fight on his plan to overturn yet another decision by the Bush administration. The president wants to change the so-called Conscience Rule for health care workers. Now, that rule provides additional protection for doctors and others who refuse to perform procedures like abortions and other procedures based on their religious beliefs.
Senator Tom Coburn is a Republican from Oklahoma. He is also a doctor, an OB/GYN, if I'm not mistaken and he says he will go to jail before he performs one of these procedures.
Senator, good morning to you.
SEN. COBURN: Good morning.
MS. KELLY: OB/GYN, correct?
SEN. COBURN: No, I'm a family practice obstetrician.
MS. KELLY: Okay, so obstetrician is within your bailiwick, obstetrics?
SEN. COBURN: You bet.
MS. KELLY: First of all, let me ask you this because when I'm researching this segment, it says, the federal law already provides protection for doctors like yourself who would refuse to perform an abortion or a similar procedure based on your religious beliefs.
So what was it that President Bush did that gave you an additional level of protection?
SEN. COBURN: Well, he clarified the rules. The rules are not clear and what they put out right near the end of his term was a very moderate, but clarifying position that would not put physicians at liability for not performing some of these procedures.
Remember under the Obama plan, all the government health care eventually -- all the health care in this country is eventually going to be run by the government, which means if, in fact, you receive money from the government, you'll be under their tutelage to do what they say has to be done. And so what this rule did that the Bush administration put out actually clarified that and firmed up the protections for people like myself who do not believe in terminating pregnancies.
MS. KELLY: So it made it absolutely clear for doctors and other health care providers, you don't have to do this if your religious beliefs are contrary to it. Now, President Obama -- the Department of Health and Human Services has made clear they're going to reverse this rule, they don't like this rule, they don't believe in it and they've served notice already that they intend to rescind the regulation.
Could that actually result, keeping in mind that there's already a federal law saying you can't make doctors perform abortions when they don't want to if they object to it religiously. Will that change doctors are in from day-to-day?
SEN. COBURN: Well, sure, it will ultimately because the bill we have on the floor right now takes American money and uses it through the United Nations Population Fund to perform abortions and coerce sterilization in China. So it's part of an incremental creed towards eliminating any objection, both as us as taxpayers and then individual physicians in terms of not complying with a government-run bureaucracy.
MS. KELLY: Are we just talking about abortion here or are we talking about something more?
SEN. COBURN: So we should be very worried about -- well, we're talking about anything. What about giving birth control pills to an 11-year-old girl who doesn't have the judgment with which to make those decisions without their parents? I mean there's all sorts of issues that will lead into this of whether or not we can be forced to do something against our conscience.
MS. KELLY: And do you think that we are now, assuming that this reversal goes through, do you think that we will now be in a position where doctors will be told, you will dispense that birth control or you're fired?
SEN. COBURN: Yeah. I think that's ultimately where we're going. If you think four or five years forward, what we're doing, especially what you see -- they've signaled what they're going to do on terms of international family planning, American taxpayers are going to be paying for abortions in China and forced sterilization and this is just one step to eliminate that protection and the next step is when the government runs all of the health care, which that is ultimately what will happen under the Obama administration and federal dollars will be tied to it and then the strings will say if you're not doing this, you can't practice.
MS. KELLY: You know, what do you think the message is, the bottom line is for the American voter out there? Because, look, President Obama didn't make any particular secret about his views when it came to the abortion issue. Is it a particular shock to you that he would be rolling back some of President Bush's regulations when it comes to this issue? I mean, is this not what the people voted for?
SEN. COBURN: Well, I'm sure that his position on pro-choice versus pro-life is very different than a lot of Americans, but it's a completely different thing than to take that position and say even if you disagree with this, if you're going to be taking federal money, you're going to have to do this and that's where we're going and that's the plan and it's telegraphed in the omnibus bill that we see right now.
MS. KELLY: And you say if anybody tries to force you to perform any of these procedures or dispense medication --
SEN. COBURN: I'll never do it.
MS. KELLY: You just won't?
SEN. COBURN: Never do it.
MS. KELLY: You'd rather go to a jail cell?
SEN. COBURN: You bet. Anytime.
MS. KELLY: Senator Coburn, always a pleasure.
SEN. COBURN: Good to be with you.
MS. KELLY: Thanks for being here.