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.”
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