Women Glaringly Absent in Gov’t Discussion on Birth Control – Again

In the January 1970 Senate testimony on the safety and effectiveness of the first birth control pills – women were not only not allowed to testify – but they were forced to sit in the Senate balcony….far removed from the discussion.¬† 40 years later and women are still ‘not allowed’ to participate in testimony and rulings about our reproductive health. ‘We must turn our anger into action. We must stop women’s issues from being made into political wedge issues.’

“Where are the Women”

Feminist Majority News
February 17, 2012

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Yesterday, Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, refused to allow the Democrats to have a single witness at the hearing on the Obama Administration’s decision on the religious exemption on contraception coverage. Furthermore, the Republicans selected only male speakers to discuss the issue of women’s contraception.

The Democratic minority had requested that Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown Law School student testify, but this request was denied by Chairman Issa. Committee Democrats criticized this decision with Ranking Member Elijah Commings (D-MD) calling Issa’s decision a “massive injustice.” Cummings ceded most of his allotted time to speak to Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

Maloney began by saying, “What I want to know is, where are the women? I look at this panel, and I don’t see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive health care services, including family planning…Of course this hearing is about rights-contraception and birth control. It’s about the fact that women want to have access to basic health services [and] family planning through their insurance plan.”

Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton ((D-DC) continued the challenge of Issa’s refusal to include Fluke as a witness, ending in a heated exchange with the Chair and both Holmes Norton and Maloney walking out of the hearing.

All ten of the witnesses spoke out against the new contraception rules. Representative Cummings stated, “Rather than inviting witnesses on both sides of this issue to engage in a reasoned and balanced discussion, you have constructed one of the most one-sided hearings I have ever seen, stacking it only with witnesses who agree with your position.”

Media Resources: Politico 2/16/12; Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Committee Hearing 2/16/12; Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Hearing Memorandum 2/13/12

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.