On February 16th, I could feel my blood boiling, started shaking my head, and wondered if this could be happening in 2012 in the United States. What set me off? Representative Darrell Issa had a Capital Hill hearing that was “supposedly” to be about religious freedom and a mandate that health insurers cover contraception. However, there were no women on the all-male panel. Representative Carolyn Maloney declared at the hearing “…we will not be forced back to that primitive era…” Not surprisingly, Ms. Maloney and Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton walked out of the hearing.
Darrell Issa insists he refused a female witness from the Democrats because she wasn’t a member of the clergy. This doesn’t sound like separation of church and state to me! According to ABC News reporter Alexa Keyes, the witness named Sandra Fluke “…would have talked about a classmate who lost an ovary because of a syndrome that causes ovarian cysts. Georgetown, which is affiliated with the Catholic Church, does not insure birth control, which is also used to treat the syndrome.”
This is clearly a hostile attack on women.
What is Darrell Issa afraid of? Women having a say in their reproductive rights? The appearance of not even one woman on the panel is disturbing and unwarranted. Maybe Mr. Issa is unaware that the pill is used for many other uses than the prevention of pregnancy. According to the Center for Young Women’s Health website, here’s a list of medical conditions that can be helped with the use of birth control pills:
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a hormonal imbalance which causes irregular menstrual periods, acne, and excess hair growth.
- Endometriosis includes cramps or pelvic pain during a menstrual cycle. Birth control pills are often prescribed to treat endometriosis and work by temporarily preventing periods.
- Lack of periods (amenorrhea) from low weight, stress, excessive exercise, or damage to the ovaries from radiation or chemotherapy: With any of these conditions, the hormone “estrogen” is not made in normal amounts by the body. Birth control pills may be prescribed to replace estrogen, which helps to regulate the menstrual cycle. For girls whose menstrual periods are irregular (too few – or not at all), birth control pills can help to regulate the menstrual cycle to every 28 days and provide the body with normal amounts of estrogen. Normal estrogen levels are important for healthy bones.
- Menstrual Cramps: When over-the-counter medications don’t help with severe cramps, birth control pills may be the solution because they prevent ovulation and lighten periods.
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Symptoms of PMS such as mood swings, breast soreness, and bloating, along with acne can occur up to 2 weeks before a young women’s period. Birth control pills may be prescribed to stop ovulation and keep hormone levels balanced. Symptoms may improve, particularly when oral contraceptive pills are prescribed continuously.
- Heavy Menstrual Periods: Birth control pills can reduce the amount and length of menstrual bleeding.
- Acne: For moderate to severe acne, which over-the-counter and prescription medications haven’t cured, birth control pills may be prescribed. The hormones in the Pill can help stop acne from forming.
- Because there is less menstrual bleeding when taking birth control pills, you are less likely to get anemia (low number of red blood cells, which carry oxygen from the lungs to the tissues). Birth control pills lower your chance of getting endometrial (lining of the uterus) cancer, ovarian cancer, and ovarian cysts.,
In other parts of the world, freedom of women is limited. In some countries women aren’t allowed to drive, vote, or express themselves. What makes the United States unique is that everyone has the right to live in freedom. Isn’t the current motivation behind the wars we fight is to give “freedom” to other countries?
According to Lois Kazakoff of the San Francisco Chronicle regarding Issa: “The hearing, says the congressman from Vista (San Diego County), is not about contraceptives, it’s about religious liberty. That explains why he only invited male witnesses who espouse conservative views of just two faiths to testify at the first of two hearings convened to guide reproductive health care policy for all American women.”
However, this is an old debate. What is the “real” motivation behind this hearing?
Could it be that religious institutions will be forced to offer contraceptives coverage for employees? Or maybe women has gotten too much freedom? Regardless, when filling out a future job application will there be a box to check if you believe in birth control or not?
Doesn’t sound like “freedom” to me…