Congress Hears All-Male Testimony On Birth Control: What’s Wrong With This Picture?
You might have already seen this image floating around Facebook with the caption, “What’s wrong with this picture?” It’s from a Republican-led Congressional hearing on requiring religious institutions to cover contraceptives in their employee health insurance plans. As you’ll notice, not a single witness testifying is a woman.
Chairman Darrel Issa (R-CA) and other Republicans have framed the debate completely as one of religious liberty, not women’s health. On these grounds, Issa denied at least one female witness, a Georgetown Law Student, on the grounds that she was not qualified to testify. (Although it’s unclear why no women testified on religious liberty.)
Regardless of the subject of the debate, it will in reality affect the personal health decisions of tens of millions of women. The two Democratic women serving on the committee, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) walked out on the hearing in protest.
Bishop William Lori opened the testimony by comparing the health care law to a hypothetical law that would force Jewish delis to serve pork. (Pig products are not permitted by Jewish dietary laws.) While Catholic.org praises the testimony as “brilliant,” Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel sees the comparison as nonsense:
Unbeknownst to [Lori], failure to take pork every day cannot lead to pregnancy, bacon does not regulate periods, and a ham sandwich cannot decrease the number of abortions or promote women’s health. The comparison of birth control to cooked pig parts was effective in one way, though— it showed that the Church utterly devalues women, and views their health care as a recreational afterthought.
Conservatives battling the perception of insensitivity were not helped by a television interview from Foster Friess, the 71-year-old millionaire and conservative Christian supporter of Rick Santorum. Talking with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Friess said that “back in [his] days,” women put Bayer aspirin “between their knees” as contraception, “and it wasn’t that costly.”
Santorum disavowed the comment; Friess later apologized, saying had been joking.
What do you think? Do Republicans have a woman problem? Do Democrats have a religion problem?