Rep. Issa Opens Hearing about Contraception Coverage with All-Male Panel
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Sometimes a picture does say a thousand words, and the hearing chaired last week by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-California) was such a time. The hearing, prompted by a White House announcement of a compromise rule requiring health insurance companies to pay for contraceptive health coverage when an employer refuses to pay on religious grounds, featured an opening panel with five witnesses–every one of them men.
The two Democratic women on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Carolyn Maloney (New York) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), walked out in protest, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) later said, “Reading the news this morning was like stepping into a time machine and going back 50 years.” That was nearly true, for it was 47 years ago that the Supreme Court first ruled that access to contraception was covered by the constitutional right to privacy in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965).
In reply, Issa insisted that the issue was not contraception at all, but the religious liberty of employers not to be forced to pay for something of which they disapprove on religious grounds, a view backed up by Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-New York), the only Republican woman on the committee. A second panel later in the day did have two women on it, although no supporters of the new rule. Issa has indicated his support for new legislation, sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), which would allow employers to opt out of covering any health care, not just contraception, to which they object on religious grounds. That legislation is being supported by all four Republican candidates for their party’s presidential nomination, as well as by a majority of Republican legislators in both houses of Congress.
To Learn More
Carolyn Maloney, Eleanor Holmes Norton Walk Out of Contraception Hearing (by J. Lester Feder, Politico)
Birth-Control Hearing Was “Like Stepping Into a Time Machine” (by Sunlen Miller, ABC News)
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