Rep. Darrell Issa Bars Minority Witness, a Woman, on Contraception? So What

(ABCnews) — A Capitol Hill hearing that was supposed to be about religious freedom and a mandate that health insurers cover contraception in the United States began as an argument about whether Democrats could add a woman to the all-male panel.

“Where are the women?” the minority Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., asked early in the hearing.


“It was staggering to sit there and feel like this panel of men was going to talk about my health and women like me,” Fluke said. “It felt so very wrong.”

Rep. Cummings accused Issa of creating “conspiracy hearing” and stacking the witness list by refusing to allow women “commits a massive injustice by trying to pretend that the views of millions of women across the country are meaningless.”


Rep. Gerry Connolly accused the witnesses of “being used for a political agenda” and that the “hearing is a sham.”

“I think it taints the value of this panel that could have been a thoughtful discussion,” he said referring to the fact that the minority was denied their requested additional witnesses.

My overall point in citing this news event is not the content of the debate, but rather the method of debate being employed.  The validity of the arguments are being determined by the type of person testifying in this case: men or women.  It is being suggested that a woman’s opinion on the issue is worth more than a man’s.

A person’s gender, race, ethnicity, etc. is irrelevant to the argument being made regardless of the subject matter.  In other words, it doesn’t matter that the panel testifying was comprised solely of men, the content of their testimony is what is important.  An argument for or against abortion isn’t better or worse if it is a man or a woman making the case.  An argument for or against reparations isn’t more or less valid if the one making the case is white or black.  Either religious based employers can (and should be permitted to) opt out of offering contraception medication and sterilization services from the health insurance packages, or they can’t (or shouldn’t).  It is irrelevant to the issue whether it is men or women debating for and against this issue.  By dismissing an argument because of who it is that offers it just shows you aren’t willing to deal with the merits of the case being made and are more emotionally invested in a particular outcome than reasoning to the correct one.

I am always wary when someone claims some panel or decision-making entity isn’t diverse enough.  I reject diversity for diversity’s sake (See: Good Grades Not Good Enough).  An argument ought to be considered for what it brings to the table, i.e. the content, not the color of the skin or the gender or the sexual orientation of the person offering it.


Tangentially, Sandra Fluke (the woman rejected by Rep. Issa) said “He spent his entire testimony talking about a hypothetical story, … It was very difficult to hear his testimony about a hypothetical story and  not about the real stories, about the women in my story.”

I would be willing to bet all the money I could borrow that Fluke is pro-choice and would hypothetically offer countless numbers of women who will die in back alleys if Roe v Wade were ever overturned and abortion were outlawed (See: Safety First)


  1. Marshall Art says:

    One could make the case that women being omitted is a good thing. Or at least lefty women. As stated, the issue isn’t about contraceptives themselves, but whether or not the gov’t can force a company to provide them to employees. I don’t even see it as a religious rights issue. If I don’t want to provide contraception for my employees (I don’t have any, I’m just sayin’), I don’t think I need to stand on religious objections alone.

    And also, is it only women who would be able to procure contraceptives through these mandates? If not, what does it matter if women are included in a particular discussion?

  2. I agree that things like race, gender, ethnicity, etc., don’t ostensibly matter when it comes to the content of an argument, but these different attributions invariably inform one’s frame of reference which may indeed vary from other present frames of reference. Moreover, while you may contend that this issue is merely about the overreach of big government, would it not be wise to consider other areas which may in fact be impacted by this decision (i.e. women’s rights)? If a company is considering expansion in such a way that it would require the demolition of projects for lower-income housing, would it not be wise for the company to consider the impact this may have on their lives? Yes, the displacement of families would not directly inform the decision for expansion, but there is an indirect causation at play here. This is standard practice in discussions, John, and to say otherwise is taking a rather narrow approach to discussions. It is standard practice to consider what the implications of any decision like this would have in areas that are not directly related.

    • Oscar

      How exactly is this a women’s rights issue? This is about the government attempting to force private employers who voluntarily offer health insurance, what kind of health insurance they must provide. If this is a rights issue at all, it is an employer’s rights issue.

  3. If women believe that they should receive contraception as a part of their health insurance, it’s pretty apparent that at least an argument can be made. Whether or not you think this argument is valid is irrelevant, the mere fact that there are those that believe the argument should be sufficient to allow the testimony of those people. We are not discussing the validity of the claims, we are discussing the mere allowance of arguments to be presented.

  4. *…the mere fact that there are those that believe the argument is valid should be sufficient…*

  5. But how can one even make the assertion that it’s merely something that is, “really reeeaaally” wanted, without actually hearing the argument? Sure, one could speculate about the arguments that may have been proffered, but without actually hearing the argument, it still remains speculation.

    • Its self evident that is a want and not an entitlement. The employer is under no obligation to provide health insurance in the first place, it is an incentive to work there and stay there. Since it is not something owed, it must be a desire — especially since for decades it has been the case that catholic based employers have knot offered this option. Now all of a sudden these women needed it to be provided? Where was this need for the last X years?

  6. Terrance H. says:

    It’s not a woman’s rights issue in any way, shape, or form. Nobody is saying that women are denied the RIGHT to use birth-control; we’re simply saying that you cannot force a religious employer to violate his or her religion, whether by providing birth-control pills, condoms, or polka-dotted neckties. To say this is a woman’s rights issue is a massive red herring.

  7. Terrance H. says:

    Secondly, I don’t understand in what possible way you seem to think that men are not as capable of arguing on behalf of woman’s rights as women are. It was a panel of nine men that gave women the “right” to abortion after hearing a panel of MALE attorney’s argue the case. So, it’s not as though not having women on the panel is a denial to even listen to an argument from women’s rights. It just means there are no women on the panel. People are making this out to be more than what it is.

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