Female Pols Walk Out on Birth-Control Hearing

Carolyn Maloney, Eleanor Norton Holmes ask, Where are the women?

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 16, 2012 1:40 PM CST

(Newser) – Two female lawmakers made a point today on Capitol Hill: In a debate concerning birth control, let some women talk. Carolyn Maloney and Eleanor Holmes Norton, both Democrats, walked out of Darrell Issa's hearing on contraceptive coverage because all five witnesses were men, including a Catholic bishop, reports Politico. "What I want to know is, where are the women?" asked Maloney. "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."

Democrats asked Issa to allow a female law student from Georgetown to speak, noting that Sandra Fluke was already in the audience. Issa, however, responded that the hearing's focus was on religious liberty, not contraception, and that Fluke was therefore unqualified, notes ABC News. The only female Republican on the panel backed him up. "I really find it so objectionable that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would characterize this as something so narrow as being about contraception," said Ann Marie Buerkle. "This is a fundamental assault on one’s conscience."

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., right, speaks on Capitol Hill in this June file photo.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., right, speaks on Capitol Hill in this June file photo.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, second from left, testifies on Capitol Hill Thursday.
The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, second from left, testifies on Capitol Hill Thursday.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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