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Child Custody Protection Act--Continued

Location: Washington, DC

CHILD CUSTODY PROTECTION ACT--Continued -- (Senate - July 25, 2006)


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, this is a philosophical debate. There are two questions we ought to ask ourselves: How many people think it is in the best interests of our young people to be sexually active outside of marriage? Is there anything positive that ever comes from that? Is there positive self-esteem? Is there disease? Are there consequences to the fact that when our young people make a decision to become sexually active, almost always there is a negative downside?

Everybody in this body desires the best for our children. We desire the best for one another's children. We desire the best for every child. I have delivered over 4,000 babies. Most of those were Medicaid or teenage moms. I have been doing that for 23 years. I know the attitudes. I know what is going on. I can see.

I have also seen every complication that can come about when we take the parents out of the loop, when we rationalize, well, if the parents aren't going to do it, the Government is going to do it for them. What we do is divide. We make division between children and parents. We do something out in the dark.

I will never forget, I was in Stigler, OK, a small community. A farmer comes in there crying, with a bag in his hand. This was when I was a Congressman. He said: Congressman, how did this happen? My 13-year-old last night came home from the health department. She went with a friend. She came home from the health department with contraceptives and condoms, oral contraceptives and condoms. He said: How is it that I can pay my taxes and I am undermined by the local health department in what my child gets? She wasn't even going for her as an appointment. But she is sold on the fact that she needs to do this. She had good enough training that she came to her parents with that and said: Here is what happened to me.

The point is, as a practicing physician, I use every tool I can with young women to make sure they are well informed. But there is a tipping point about what the best medical advice is. This is debatable. But I would tell you the best medical advice we could give our young men and women, the best absolute medical advice is to stay abstinent until you are in a married relationship. Everybody in this body probably agrees with that.

If that is true, if risk avoidance is the best message, why do we turn around and give 1200 percent more money to risk reduction than we do risk avoidance? For every dollar we spend on abstinence education, we spend $12 on teaching people how to lower the risk. What is the message we are sending with that? We are going to spend $600 million this year on what this amendment does already. That is what we are going to spend. If you add up everything associated with this amendment, we are going to spend another $600 million. First, where are we going to get the money? We don't have it so we are going to borrow it from the very children we say we want to protect to do this.

No. 2, we are winning the war in this country on teenage pregnancy. We are winning the war. We have the highest level of virgin 16-year-olds we have had in 30 years in this country, both men and women, both girls and boys. I don't know if 1200 percent more of that is because we have comprehensive sex education or whether 100 percent of it is because of abstinence. I don't know that. But what I do know is, I am not going to vote for anything that destroys relationships as I have seen in my practice for young women for years.

Does that mean somebody who can't get available maternal child health should be denied it? No. Does that mean somebody who seeks out the right guidance should be denied it? No. This isn't a debate about not doing what we are already doing. We are already doing it. The question is, should we do more? Should we penalize the best medical advice that is out there, which is to abstain? The consequences of that would be disastrous.

The moral rationalization is if you make a mistake, there are no consequences. I have seen the consequences. Condoms on teenagers work about 50 percent of the time, if you add up all the studies. The STD rate for teenagers, even when used perfectly, for human papilloma virus is still 38 percent, the No. 1 cause of cervical cancer. We can rationalize our moral principle away or we can say: Here is where we should go. We are not talking about changing anything.

The President was widely attacked that he hadn't increased moneys for all this. We don't have money to increase anything in this country. We are fighting a war. We have had Katrina. We are running a $350 billion deficit. We don't have money. So if we are going to do this, what program are we going to cut? Or are we going to offer another $600 million? By the way, the title X program hasn't been authorized in 16 years and we are still appropriating moneys.

There is a difference in philosophy. It doesn't mean I am right or wrong. It doesn't mean those who oppose me are wrong or right. But what I have seen from experience is when we honor virtue, when we mentor integrity, when we encourage the right choices, what we get is right choices, honor, and integrity. When we rationalize the consequences of violating principles that are for a healthy productive life, we get a consumption of errors.

I have so many stories I would love for this body and the American people to know about the people I have cared for, the consequences of when we rationalize a moral principle of being pure until you are in a married relationship. Is that prudish? Does it happen? It happens a lot more than we give credit for.

The question we ought to ask ourselves is, would it happen more if we set the example, if we didn't glorify the other position, if we didn't rationalize the position?

I am opposed to the amendment on three grounds. One, we are already spending a ton of money on comprehensive sex education. I am not opposed to that. I teach condoms. I teach barrier methods. I also teach the consequences and the failure rates. I teach the consequences of oral contraceptives. We only have about 10 kids a year die in this country because they are given birth control pills that the parent didn't even know about and they have a thromboembolic event because there is a family history that was never related. So it is OK to sacrifice those 10 young girls because we didn't want their parents, who could have made a decision, to know. We could have done that, but we are not going to do that. We are going to rationalize the behavior of something that is not as good for our children, that is not the best medical advice, and we are going to sacrifice those lives. I am going to oppose it because we are already doing it, No. 1.

No. 2, we already have a markedly distorted ratio against the best medical advice on which we all agree, the best thing our kids could do is not be sexually active outside of a monogamous, long-term relationship. We all agree to that. There is not anybody who disagrees with that.

And finally, why is it here? Why is it on this bill? It is because we don't want this bill. Some of us don't want this bill to pass.

I will relate to you a story about a gal. I will call her Julie because I can't mention her name. Julie is dead. Julie was 16 years of age. Her parents didn't know she had a termination to her pregnancy. When I saw her in the ER at 2 o'clock in the morning, she had a fever and a little bit of bleeding. She had a botched abortion with an infection developed, what is called disseminated intravascular coagulation. And basically 3 days later, despite all the heroic events, she died. Why did she die? She died because we separated the choices that she made from her parents without their involvement. Would she have died if somebody had cared to know what her immediate post-op followup condition was? No. Had she had intervention earlier, would she have died? No. Her parents will never get over the fact that they weren't there. They blame themselves.

I oppose this amendment and hope other Members will do so as well.

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