MLK, Rape, and an All-Male Revue on Women's Reproductive Rights

Category:  BloggERy
Thursday, February 16th, 2012 at 11:58 PM
MLK, Rape, and an All-Male Revue on Women's Reproductive Rights by Jay Stevens
Think Progress

I know, I know, I've got contraceptives on the brain...but the issue just won't die! In fact, it continues to grow uglier!

To wit: House Oversight Committee chair Daniel Issa held a hearing on the Obama adminstration's new rule mandating insurers cover contraception...and he refused to sit any women witnesses. No, that is not a joke. Here's a snapshot of the witnesses:

Who better to talk about women's reproductive rights?

C&L found the testimony of one of the women rejected from Issa's hearing: Sandra Fluke, who was planning on talking about the health reasons for taking certain contraceptives:

In the worst cases, women who need this medication for other medical reasons suffer dire consequences. A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome and has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries. Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown insurance because it's not intended to prevent pregnancy. At many schools, it wouldn't be, and under Senator Blunt's amendment, Senator Rubio's bill, or Representative Fortenberry's bill, there's no requirement that an exception be made for such medical needs.


In sixty-five percent of cases, our female students were interrogated by insurance representatives and university medical staff about why they need these prescriptions and whether they're lying about their symptoms. For my friend, and 20% of women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription, despite verification of her illness from her doctor. Her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted the birth control to prevent pregnancy. She's gay, so clearly polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy.

Of course, it's critical women have access to contraceptives to control pregnancy, too, but it's important to remember that certain health conditions are treated with birth control, and this use is being steamrolled by conservatives and religious leaders who wish to legislate their discomfort with women's sexuality.

Anyhow, the Democratic women on Issa's committee walked out on the hearing. Issa, apparently feeling put upon, compared himself to Martin Luther King, Jr.

(King: "I have both publically and privately advocated the wider use of birth control methods...It is my hope that federal and state governments will begin to appropriate large sums to educate people to the need of such devices.")

Meanwhile, while conservative men argue that a mandate requiring insurance companies to pay for contraceptives gives them the willies, the Virginia legislature passed a law that requires all women seeking an abortion must have an ultrasound first. Dahlia Lithwick:

Because the great majority of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks, that means most women will be forced to have a transvaginal procedure, in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced. Since a proposed amendment to the bill—a provision that would have had the patient consent to this bodily intrusion or allowed the physician to opt not to do the vaginal ultrasound—failed on 64-34 vote, the law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law.

It's hard to feel much sympathy for religious conservatives crying oppression, isn't it?


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