In response to a recent Obama administration move to ensure access to conception coverage for female employee of religious institutions, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the matter. As if the hearing title wasn’t trollish enough: Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?
Not only were there no women on the panel, no female witnesses were asked to speak. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) put out a statement blasting Rep. Issa’s decision on his selection of witnesses:
It is inconceivable to me that you believe tomorrow’s hearing has no bearing on the reproductive rights of women. This Committee commits a massive injustice by trying to pretend that the views of millions of women across this country are meaningless, worthless, or irrelevant to this debate. […]
Even if you fundamentally disagree with Ms. Fluke’s viewpoint on this matter, you should not be afraid to hear it. A hearing stacked with last-minute witnesses who offer no competing views only contributes to the perception that our Committee is fostering a circus-like atmosphere intended to further politicize this debate.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) also criticized Rep. Issa in a press briefing:
What is it that men don’t understand about women’s health and how central the issue of family planning is to that?. Where are the women? And that’s a good question for the whole debate. Where are the women. Imagine, having a panel on women’s health and then not having any women on the panel, duh!
Rep. Darrell Issa defended his actions by drawing a comparison to Martin Luther King:
— Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) February 16, 2012