Issa and Blunt Share Chump Crown; Champs Pelosi and Maloney ask: "Where are the Women?"
Our champs and chumps piece really wrote itself this week…
It began with Senator Roy Blunt from Missouri introducing an amendment that would not only give religiously affiliated institutions the power to deny health care benefits to their employees; it would allow ANY employer to deny benefits based on so-called moral conviction. To be clear, this would mean that if your boss had a moral objection to HIV screenings, he (or she) could deny you health care coverage. Or if for some reason your boss believed prayer was the cure for everything, you could be denied coverage for any lifesaving intervention. That’s what we’re dealing with. Sounds fair, right?
The Senate couldn’t get their act together and failed to bring this amendment to a vote — pushing it off until after recess — but that didn’t mean anti-women’s health legislators were done trying to deny women health care. Instead, we pivoted to one of the most ridiculous House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform hearings of all time.
The hearing was supposed to be about whether religiously affiliated institutions should cover contraception without additional co-pays. But to the public, it quickly devolved into an argument about whether a woman could testify on the subject of… women’s health.
According to committee Chairman Darrell Issa, Sandra Fluke of Georgetown University’s law school, who had planned to talk about her friend and classmate who lost an ovary because of a cyst that could have been treated with birth control, wasn’t “qualified” enough to speak on the subject matter. Sandra is a female student who attends a religiously affiliated institution that does not insure birth control. Isn’t that enough?
Apparently not for Chairman Issa and his fellow anti-women’s health cronies, who refused to let the sole witness for the minority and one of the ONLY females testify in the hearing.
The only thing more ridiculous than Republicans not allowing a single woman to testify in support of a benefit that directly affects women’s health would be to have a panel with nine men testifying, three of whom are religious figures….oh wait. Out of the eleven people who testified at the hearing, only two were women, and none supported the benefit to cover contraception.
Between Congressman Issa and Senator Roy Blunt, we really couldn’t have decided who was more deserving of our Chump of the Week Crown. So they both win! You have to wonder if they realize women vote in elections.
Luckily, women weren’t completely without advocates in this fight. A number of representatives, including Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), protested the hearings. While Maloney announced her objection to the unfair gender balance and walked out early, Pelosi — always a strong champion of women’s health — discussed the situation at her weekly press conference and elevated the issue sending an e-mail urging supporters to sign a petition and demand the House Republican leaders let women have a voice in discussions about women’s health.
“Where are the women?” asked Rep. Carolyn Maloney, as she criticized them for wanting to “roll back the fundamental rights of women to a time when the government thought what happens in the bedroom is their business.”
“We will not be forced back to that primitive era,” she said.
Honestly, someone pinch me and tell me I didn’t wake up in 1952.
"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," said Pelosi at a press conference. Taking it even further, she highlighted that Republicans are so out of touch with reality that she may ‘“be moved to explain biology to my colleagues."
It wasn’t all just talk. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and Nancy Pelosi proved just that, tweeting a picture of the unfair gender balance (read: all male) on yesterday’s panel.
“At @GOPOversight hearing right now 5 men are testifying on women's health: http://yfrog.com/10wg35j #WhereAreTheWomen?”
Representatives Maloney and Pelosi made quite a splash, demanding women have a voice when it comes to discussions about women’s health. With the issue elevated in the public, the image of the five men sitting on the first panel caused a stir. Less than two hours after images from the hearing were posted, there were more than 2,600 likes on our Facebook page and more than 5,000 shares — and that was just one of the many images that were circulating in the media. For calling attention to something that is DEFINITELY not okay, we’re naming these two women our champs of the week.