Following up on an earlier item, here was the witness table at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, as discussion about contraception access and health care got underway.
You’ll notice, of course, that all of the witnesses are men. What you can’t tell from the photo is that the second panel will feature four more men, and the combined total of the nine witnesses will include no women, no experts on contraception, no experts on health care, and no experts who might say something Republicans disagree with.
As ThinkProgress noted, this proved to be a bit too much for some of the Democratic woman on the committee. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) asked a sensible question under the circumstances: “Where are the women? When I look at this panel, I don’t see one, single woman representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need coverage for basic preventive health care services.”
As the farce hearing progressed, nearly all of the Democratic women on the committee left the room in protest.
There is one Republican woman on the committee, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.), who has not expressed concerns about the one-sided nature of the hearing.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who rejected the one witness Democrats asked to participate, claimed this morning that the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and a progressive voice, had been invited to participate, and would have provided balance to the hearing (balance, in this case, would mean nine conservatives and one liberal).
In reality, committee Dems had considered Lynn as a possible witness, but instead invited a young female law student at Georgetown.
Rev. Lynn [disclosure: Lynn is a long-time friend of mine] explained in a statement, “I was open to testify at today’s hearing, but I understand and support the minority’s decision to ask a woman to take part because this issue would affect women’s access to contraceptives and the right to conscience. I appreciate that I was given the opportunity to provide written testimony. I am disappointed, however, by the imbalance on the panel and the lack of women’s voices on an issue that has terrific impact on them. When the claim of ‘conscience’ by large religions collides with that of an individual woman, her right to make her own moral decision must be saved.”