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Woman barred from all-male panel: Using contraception makes me qualified

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A woman who was recently excluded from a House Oversight Committee hearing on contraception says she was qualified to testify because unlike the all-male panel of witnesses, she actually uses birth control.

Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said at the time that he had rejected Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke because she was “not found to be appropriate or qualified,” dismissing her as someone who “appears to have become energized over this issue.”

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During a special House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hearing on Thursday, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) finally gave Fluke a chance to respond.

“I will confirm that I was energized,” she stated as the committee erupted in laughter. “As you can see from the reaction behind me, many women in this country are energized about this issue.”

“In terms of whether or not I was an appropriate witness, I felt insulted not for myself, but for the women I wanted to represent, the women whose stories I wanted to convey to the committee, and the women whose voices were silenced that day,” Fluke explained, adding “I’m an American woman who uses contraception, so let’s start right there. That makes me qualified to talk to my elected officials about my health care needs.”

Because of its roots as a Catholic and Jesuit university, Georgetown does not provide contraception as a part of health care for students. An Obama administration mandate aims to change that.

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Fluke said she would have told the Republican-controlled House Oversight Committee how the lack of birth control coverage had impacted students on campus.

“My testimony would have been about women who have been affected by their policy, who have medical needs and have suffered dire consequences,” she explained to The Washington Post earlier this month.

“The committee did not get to hear real stories I had to share, about actual women who have been dramatically affected by this policy.”

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Watch this video from C-SPAN, broadcast Feb. 23, 2012.

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(H/T: Think Progress)


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