As I write this on Thursday morning, there is a Congressional hearing called by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Manistan) protesting the intrusion of government into religion, sparked by Kathleen Sebelius' issuance of regulations requiring health insurers to provide contraception with no co-payments. Democratic women walked out on the hearing after their witnesses were not allowed to appear before the committee.
As is true of all congressional hearings, elected officials are posturing and chest-beating over religious freedoms and intrusive government. Their claim: requiring contraception without co-payments is excessive government intrusion into religious freedom.
Conservatives are hypocrites. This isn't a surprise. Even so, it's shockingly cynical to hear them quote everyone from Stalin to Martin Luther King with the full nods of their chosen religious leaders sitting before them. This hearing deserves to be put alongside what they fully believe should be allowed to be done to women by the state. Very, very big government.
No birth control, ladies, but if you happen to get pregnant and want an abortion, we're going to shove a transvaginal probe in you before we "let you" have that abortion. There's some liberty for you.
This is 2012, right? Here, let me show you what Issa's panel looks like:
Here's some of the testimony they excluded, from Sandra Fluke, a third-year student at Georgetown Law, a Jesuit school:
In the worst cases, women who need this medication for other medical reasons suffer dire consequences. A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome and has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries. Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown insurance because it's not intended to prevent pregnancy. At many schools, it wouldn't be, and under Senator Blunt's amendment, Senator Rubio's bill, or Representative Fortenberry's bill, there's no requirement that an exception be made for such medical needs.
In sixty-five percent of cases, our female students were interrogated by insurance representatives and university medical staff about why they need these prescriptions and whether they're lying about their symptoms. For my friend, and 20% of women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription, despite verification of her illness from her doctor. Her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted the birth control to prevent pregnancy. She's gay, so clearly polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy.
This is the message that not requiring coverage of contraception sends. A woman's reproductive healthcare isn't a necessity, isn't a priority.