Last week, Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform committee held a now famous hearing on contraception, in which the first panel consisted of five men and no women. Issa denied a request by committee Democrats to hear from Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown student who was going to talk about being denied access to birth control by the Jesuit university; she had a powerful story, for example, about a friend who needed birth control to control ovarian cysts, was unable to get it and ended up losing an ovary.
Issa said that Fluke was not “appropriate and qualified” as a witness, but Democrats felt otherwise and held an unofficial hearing this morning on Capitol Hill that featured testimony exclusively from Fluke.
Fluke spoke about the need for women to have access to birth control and repeatedly illustrated the tragedy of denial:
This is the message that not requiring coverage of contraception sends: a woman’s reproductive healthcare isn’t a necessity, isn’t a priority. One student told us that she knew the birth control wasn’t covered, and she assumed that’s how Georgetown’s insurance handled all of women’s sexual healthcare, so when she was raped, she didn’t go to the doctor even to be examined or tested for sexually transmitted infections because she thought insurance wasn’t going to cover something like that, something related to a woman’s reproductive health. As one student put it, “This policy communicates to female students that our school doesn’t understand our needs.” These are not feelings that male fellow students experience. And they’re not burdens that male students must shoulder.
You can watch the entire hearing here. It’s about an hour long, and alternately informative, personal and sad: