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Dems walk out of House GOP’s contraception hearing

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, February 16, 2012 11:27 EDT
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A sign held by a protester in Washington, D.C. Photo: Flickr user WeNews.
 
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Female Democrats on Thursday walked out of a House GOP committee hearing on contraceptive coverage after the only female witness requested to speak during the first of two hearings was rejected by the committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).

Reports from inside the hearing noted that some of the female Democrats left the room, and one member, Rep. Holmes Norton (D-DC), called the committee an “autocratic regime.”

Female Democrats who stayed included Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), who is not a member of the House Oversight Committee. And when DeLauro tried to speak, she was twice interrupted by Chairman Issa, who tried to silence her line of questioning when a fellow democrat, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), attempted to walk out as well.

“Talk about abridging freedom of speech,” she said after Issa’s second interruption.

The hearing focused on the president’s new rule that private insurance plans pay for preventative care, which is to include contraceptives for women. Chairman Issa lined up a collection of religious experts who object to the rule as abridging their freedom of speech, even though the administration has exempted religious groups from having to pay for contraceptive coverage.

Featured front and center were an all-male panel of witnesses from the Catholic church, the Lutheran Church, a Jewish Rabbi, and a Southern Baptist ethics professor, among others, all of whom seemed to object to being required to pay for contraceptives. Each man present said they felt that the requirement went too far and trampled on their religious beliefs.

One individual even said he would be willing to go to jail if it meant not violating his conscience, leading Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to declare that if insurers cover contraceptives for females, all the religious hospitals in the nation might shut down. He further suggested that may actually be the Obama administration’s true plan.

“I think this is a shameful exercise,” Connolly said, accusing the witnesses of “willingly” participating in political “demagogery” in an election year.

President Barack Obama said recently that religious groups will not be forced to pay for contraceptives, but maintained that all private health insurance plans must cover contraception. In cases where an exemption has been granted, the government will require the insurance company to pick up the cost.

This video was published to YouTube on Feb. 16, 2012 by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee.

Updated from an original version.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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