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Lankford: Getting contraceptives not a problem in America

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. James Lankford sat down in his Capitol Hill office this week for an interview with The Oklahoman that covered abortion, the Iran nuclear deal, his reelection plans and his work on the Social Security Disability program.

The full interview will appear Sunday in The Oklahoman.

In this excerpt, Lankford responds to questions about the potential impact of his efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and provide more religious exemptions from the contraception mandate.

Q: You authored a bill defunding Planned Parenthood and now you’ve written legislation that would further broaden the exemptions from the contraception mandate (in the Affordable Care Act). Could this lead to more unwanted pregnancies?

A: What I’m trying to do is not to try to create unwanted pregnancies. What I’m trying to do is tell people that they can live their faith. And that’s extremely important to individuals. That is a First Amendment right, that you have the free exercise of religion. It’s not that you can have a faith but you can’t live it.

And for some entities and individuals, this is extremely important. Right now the federal government is telling them: “I’m sorry, we believe different than you do. You have to change your religious practice to align with ours or you can’t function.”

Q: I know it’s not your goal to create more unwanted pregnancies. But is it possible that by shutting down more avenues for people to get contraception that you do create more unwanted pregnancies?

A: So there are contraceptives that are available all over the state, whether it be county health clinics, whether it be community health centers. There are a lot of places where contraceptives are made available for free. So I don’t think that’s an issue … The availability of contraceptives has not been a problem in America in the last several years.

Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›