Lines Crossed

The title of the House oversight and Government Reform committee's panel to discuss birth control coverage by religious employers revealed disturbing single-mindedness on an issue that impacts more than one group, and carries severe ramifications for health care policy & gender equality in the US:

“Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?”

That's it. No mention of women. By framing this as a religious freedom issue, reproductive rights and women's health are consequently irrelevant to the discussion.

The misogynistic policies and rhetoric in this country have been getting out of control for a while now, but the frightening thing is the relative lack of outrage and protest they've been garnering. The fact that the committee chose to title the above mentioned hearing as they did, and that women were literally not allowed to partake in it, is soaked in patriarchal oppression and discrimination. It really shouldn't be so difficult for Americans to tell wrong from right. In a democratic society, not allowing women to testify on a measure that directly and negatively affects their well-being is WRONG. Plain and simple.

Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) justified his decision to block women from testifying against the issue by claiming it was about religious freedom, and NOT birth control. A decision that would prevent female employees of religious institutions from receiving coverage for birth control is not about birth control, and thus you get to see this picture of the people who were allowed to testify:

This picture has been spread like wildfire on the internet, which indicates that people might have some uneasy feelings about it. We know that it is wrong. We know that it is unfair. As Erin Gloria Ryan of Jezebel put it, this hearing "showed the particular brand of contempt, disdain, and dismissiveness with which the right wing and some religious leaders approach women's health."

These men (and women who internalize their oppression) must really feel threatened by the power and strength of women, otherwise they wouldn't be so frantically trying to infringe on our rights. It would be funny, if it didn't have such dire consequences for health and equality in the United States, and if it weren't so indicative of the hateful fantasy world that many influential people in our country live in.

"And you never ask questions, when God's on your side..."

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