“What I want to know is, where are the women?” asked Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) shortly before she walked out of House oversight committee hearing on insurance coverage for contraceptives. “I look at this panel [of witnesses], 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.”
Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa called five witnesses who opposed a rule floated and then quickly rescinded by the Obama administration last week that would have required church-owned businesses to cover the cost of contraceptives for their employees. All five Republican witnesses were men.
Issa refused to seat the lone witness he’d allowed Democrats to call. Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown University, had planned to testify about the experience of a fellow student at the Catholic university who lost an ovary because the school’s insurance did not cover the contraceptives she needed to treat ovarian cysts.
Issa claimed Fluke was not qualified because, unlike the Republican witnesses, she was not a religious expert.
“We will not be forced back to that primitive era,” Rep. Maloney said. She and District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton then left the hearing in protest.