News Law and Policy

Where Are the Women?

Brady Swenson

Today on Capitol Hill, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform assembled a panel to discuss the birth control mandate in President Obama's Affordable Care Act. The panel consisted of eight male anti-choice, anti-contraception religious leaders and one female anti-choice witness. None had health credentials.

For all our coverage of the 2012 House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Hearing, click here.

For all our coverage of the 2012 Contraceptive Mandate, click here.

Today on Capitol Hill, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform assembled a panel to discuss the birth control mandate in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The panel consisted of eight male anti-choice, anti-contraception religious leaders and one female anti-choice witness. None had health credentials.

Jezebel sums it up nicely:

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The Obama administration was initially going to require non-houses of worship to subsidize the cost of birth control for their employees regardless of the religion’s stance on contraceptives. When holy rollers from coast to coast clutched their rosaries and Bibles in protest, the administration offered a compromise that wouldn’t require religious institutions to pay for the prescriptions themselves, but rather the insurance companies providing the institution’s health care plan. This compromise suited many religious organizations just fine, but hard-liners persisted, and Republicans seized on their chest-thumping claims that they were being persecuted in the hopes that the issue would convince voters that somehow the President is declaring war on religion.

California Republican Darrell Issa chaired the panel, and because Republicans hold a majority in the House, he was able to choreograph the entire proceedings. He thoughtfully assembled a diverse group of men who don’t necessarily have any real, fact-based reason to oppose birth control except for the fact that it made them feel icky. Invited to testify were five men. And no women. The whole thing was, to put it as succinctly as possible, depressing as fuck.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pointed out the lunacy of the situation, stating in a press conference:

I think it’s really curiouser and curiouser that as we get further into this debate, the Republican leadership of this Congress thinks it’s appropriate to have a hearing on the subject of women’s health and can purposely exclude women from the panel. What else do you need to know about the subject? If you need to know more, tune in, I may, I may at some point be moved to explain biology to my colleagues.

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