"I'm not up here to smear him"

Published September 17, 2004 1:59PM (EDT)

The woman who claims Tom Coburn sterilized her without her consent came forward yesterday. Needless to say, the Republican Senate candidate in Oklahoma has had a bad week, starting with Salon's story on Monday about the previously unpublicized sterilization scandal and the evidence that Coburn committed Medicaid fraud by apparently submitting a claim for the procedure against the rules (Medicaid wouldn't pay for it because she was younger than 21). But Coburn's troubles were compounded yesterday when the woman held a press conference and told her story.

From the WaPost: "Her voice shaking at times, Angela Plummer said that while Tom Coburn saved her life during a 1990 surgery to remove a fallopian tube in which a fetus had lodged, she was 'stunned' to learn that he had also removed her remaining good tube."

"'Dr. Tom Coburn sterilized me without my consent -- verbal or written -- and I know he's stating that he got oral consent. That is not true,' Plummer said at a news conference. 'I'm not up here to smear him. I'm up here because I wanted to have more children, and he took that away from me.'"

"Coburn is embroiled in a tight race with Rep. Brad Carson (D), and the conservative Muskogee doctor has accused Democrats of leaking the story to 'trash' his character. Plummer said Thursday that she had not spoken to anyone with partisan interests but came forward after she had read the initial article about the sterilization on Salon.com earlier in the week."

"The race is considered one the most critical in the country as both parties fight for control of the U.S. Senate. A spokesman for Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said Thursday that the senator was scheduled to visit Oklahoma to campaign for Coburn on Friday. Vice President Cheney is due here next week on Coburn's behalf. The story has dominated the local news this week, with national Democrats jumping into the fray. Polls show the race is a dead heat."

Looks like Coburn should count out the Cherokee Nation voting bloc in this tight race -- he's already offended and alienated Cherokees by, among others things, claiming they are "not really Indians."

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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