Men Dominate Senate Birth Control Panel
Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2012 00:02
Last Thursday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee called in five witnesses to testify in a hearing to debate the Obama administration's new regulation requiring religiously affiliated institutions to provide free contraceptive care for its employees. The experts called to testify – all who are Republican conservatives opposed to the new regulation – included not a single woman in the panel.
The lack of women witnesses in a hearing about women's rights has sparked an online frenzy, propagated mostly by Democrats. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who first tweeted the picture of the all-male panel with the comment #WhereAreTheWomen, has inspired other Congress members to express their disapproval of the panel.
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) wrote, "How could House #GOP hold women's health hearing w/o any women?"
Representative John Tierney (D-Mass.) tweeted, "RT if you agree that American women who rely on safe & affordable coverage for preventative health care deserve to be heard #WhereAreTheWomen."
Democrats say they invited a woman to testify in that first panel; however, Republicans blocked her admission saying she wasn't "qualified" and instead posted a video of her speaking at a conference online. Another panel later that day did include two women, yet for most people it wasn't enough, and many representatives walked out of the committee room.
Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) tweeted, "I feel like I'm on the set of @MadMen_AMC. #wherearethewomen #backintheday."
It is astonishing that in 2012, decades after women were given the right to vote, women's rights are still an issue. When debating an issue that directly affects millions of women in America, not a single woman was involved in the discussion. While certain men are qualified to give testimony about facts on contraception and women's health, it is women who are going to be affected by these new regulations. Women should have been called in to testify.
The Republican Party believes that this new regulation violates religious freedom. This is a valid argument as well as a serious accusation. Thus, on the first panel of men, three were members of the clergy. However, not every member of a religious affiliated organization opposes the law. Institutions such as Catholic United and Catholic Charities, who praise the Obama administration's new policy, were not invited to speak. Even if these views are in the minority, they should still be allowed to express their voices in support of this issue.
The panel did not accurately represent the voices of women and the opinion of those institutions that support the new rule. It was clearly biased and should not be considered as credible.
Wake up, America: this is the 21st Century. This is no longer a male-dominated world. Women should be included in discussions that involve their gender. Hopefully, in the future, mistakes such as this will not happen again.