If you’ve been following the debate on contraception over the last couple of weeks, you might have noticed a fascinating trend. Hormonal contraception is taken solely by women. It is prescribed by medical professionals for a variety of medical conditions, including some that would be very painful without birth control pills and some that could be deadly. Yet, on TV and now in Congress, neither women nor healthcare experts have been allowed to participate in the debate.
Media Matters posted this graph. Of about 300 cable TV panelists discussing the debate, just one was a healthcare provider. The rest were the usual array of political pundits with some righteously indignant religious leaders thrown in.
Congress, in an attempt to be even less “fair and balanced” than cable news, has decided to take women out of the debate altogether. In a hearing with the House Oversight Committee, Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) was asked by ranking Democratic committee member, Elijah Cummings (D-MD) to include the testimony of a woman. Issa refused, making the claim that,
“As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.”
From Think Progress:
And so Cummings, along with the Democratic women on the panel, took their request to the hearing room, demanding that Issa consider the testimony of a female college student. But the California congressman insisted that the hearing should focus on the rules’ alleged infringement on “religious liberty,” not contraception coverage, and denied the request. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out of the hearing in protest of his decision, citing frustration over the fact that the first panel of witnesses consisted only of male religious leaders against the rule. Holmes Norton said she will not return, calling Issa’s chairmanship an “autocratic regime.”
It’s one thing to be told that one of our most basic liberties, a liberty that women have had for two generations, may be in danger. It’s one thing to be told that medicine for real conditions that affect millions of American women may not be provided by health insurance. It’s quite another when we are told not to worry our pretty little heads about issues that directly affect our bodies because our opinions are irrelevant.
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