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Protect Women's Health from Corporate Interference Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I want to spend a few minutes discussing the effect and the premise of the legislation on which we just decided not to move forward.

I have spent 25 years of my life caring for women. There is not a complication of pregnancy I have not handled. I have seen every aspect of it. I have delivered babies the size of my little finger and watched them move their little arms, not yet far enough along to survive. I have cared for women in the midst of lost pregnancies and the tragedy and trauma and the heartbreak. I have cared for women who have had abortions and the complications that has completed and exacerbated in their own lives from psychological to real physical problems. I have actually performed abortions to save women's lives who had severe congenital heart defects and would have died had their pregnancy continued.

But the premise under which this bill was brought forward is an absolute false premise. You see, I come from Oklahoma. David Green and his family come from Oklahoma. They are the owners of Hobby Lobby. They are one of the finest groups of people I have ever met in my life. They are responsible corporate citizens. But everything they have done in their life is guided by their faith and their ethics. Therefore, they are not open on Sunday because they feel their employees have a right to a restful weekend. They pay a very livable wage. They have always had health insurance.

The Supreme Court decision was about religious freedom and whether I, as a private businessperson, am still entitled to that as I carry on commerce in this country.

What has been described--maybe not specifically but negatively--is that Hobby Lobby and the Green family do not appreciate women or their contributions or their rights or their freedoms. Nothing could be further from the truth. They had a very personal objection to four abortifacients--not birth control pills--four medicines, devices that actually kill a living human being. See, what we do not think about very often--and I think about all the time--is that when an egg and a sperm unite, there is created something that has never been created before: a unique human being. The genetic material will be no different at conception than it is when you are 85 years old. It is unique. It has never before been here; it will never again be here.

So based on these deeply held beliefs and ethics--and what I would say is morals--they chose to supply their entire employee network with 16 different methods of birth control. But the four that actually kill a baby that has been formed--they thought it was their religious right to be able to say they should not have to take money out of their pocket to pay for something that goes against their strongly held moral, ethical, and faith beliefs.

So we have had a reaction. It is political in nature. It does not have much to do with the facts. It has a lot to do with darkness, of saying something is so that is not true, and saying it often enough so we can tell people that here are those terrible Republicans and they want to hurt women.

I dedicated 25 years of my life to helping women in every type of tragedy, every type of disease, whether it is cancer or diabetes or hypertension or pregnancy or miscarriages or just the common cold. Before the Senate forced me to stop delivering babies, I was delivering babies that I delivered; in other words, it was the third generation. That is how crazy the Senate ethics rules are.

So the very undercurrent of what we heard could not be further from the truth. What we heard--the implications were that the Green family is somehow this negative corporate monster who wants to take women's rights away--is absolutely untrue.

The other falsehood we hear is that if you do not have health care, you do not have available birth control. We spend $400 million a year on title 19, most of which is in birth control pills that are given out to women who do not have access. It costs $7 a month to buy birth control pills, and most physicians, like myself, who had women who could not either access title 19 or who did not have $7 a month, gave the pills themselves out of their stocks, their samples.

So there is a reality other than what has been painted in the Senate, and I could not sit by and let this hang out, this terrible untruth. I do not know of a family business, I do not know of a business in America that cares more about its employees than Hobby Lobby, and it is manifested through the employee loyalty and also the success of their brand because they really have a team. And you do not have a team if you do not feel as if you are being cared for--that you are not one of the group.

There are a lot of problems in front of this country. But the one described in this last piece of legislation is not one of them. The Green family does not keep anybody from buying abortifacients if they want them. They are not all that expensive. The morning-after pill is over the counter. But to force a person of faith to pay for an action against what they believe is morally wrong. It is far away from the religious liberties our Constitution guarantees.

I know we can get hyped up on emotion, but the emotion we ought to get hyped on is preserving the rights our Founders guaranteed when they started this country. They were based on the same set of beliefs the Green family inculcates into everything they do with Hobby Lobby. It is pretty ironic to me that we have become so post-modern, so smart, so ``for'' what the government can do and mandate that we are willing to destroy the very freedoms that created this country in the first place.

This bill was a cynical attack on truth. I am glad it is not proceeding. It is time to quit wasting the Senate's time on political games and start addressing the very real problems this country has, such as the fact that Social Security disability will run out of money next month; the fact that one-third of those on disability who are not truly disabled are threatening the livelihood of those who truly are; the fact that Medicare, 17 years from now or 16 years from now, will be out of money; the fact that Social Security will be out of money in 18 years; the fact that we are having corporations leave this country in a mass flood because we have a Tax Code that is not competitive with the rest of the world; the fact that we are wasting $250 billion a year on duplicative programs that do not accomplish the goals which the Congress set out for them. Yet we have no leadership that says we are going to address the very real problems in front of the country. It is not a great record to be proud of.

I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.


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