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House Holds Contraceptive Panel With No Women

In a high-tempered congressional meeting about President Obama’s controversial contraception bill, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton had to exit. She, like her like-minded constituents, couldn’t understand why Senator Darrell Issa (R-Ca) would chair a committee on the right for women to have access to birth control without having a single woman in the group. Totting giant posters of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, and President Kennedy, Issa believes he’s protecting the right to freedom of conscience by not passing the bill that would mandate all insurers except churches – including non-church religious affiliated organizations – offer health insurance with birth control coverage.

Currently 99 percent of adult aged American women have used or are on some form of birth control. Among the witness invited to join the committee were Catholic bishops and other men of the cloth. Not invited were representatives from the Catholic Health Association, which is run by a woman. A third-year Georgetown law student, Sandra Fluke, was proposed by the Democrats to be invited but was denied because “the hearing is not about reproductive rights but instead about the administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience…[she was] not an appropriate witness,” said Issa’s staff in a denial letter. The hearing ended early after hours of arguments and Senator Issa took to Twitter to get his last word by quoting King about the importance of sticking to one’s conscience.

How much is the abortion debate about women and how much is it about bi-partisan argument? Why are women’s needs being put in the middle of biased political rhetoric?

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