iOS app Android app More

Contraception Rule: Women Mostly Absent From Hearings

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 02/17/2012 5:33 pm Updated: 02/17/2012 5:33 pm

How did hearings on whether religious organizations should be required to offer women contraception end up taking place with so few women in the room?

It happened like this, according to the Washington Post: Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) walked out when no female witnesses were included in the first panel and House oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said it was too late to add any. That left only one female legislator, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.) present.

The near absence of women from the proceedings sparked outrage from criticis. Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast asked,

"They couldn't even find a Catholic woman to make the case that this isn't about abortion? Or do any actually exist?"

Jena McGregor at the Washington Post's On Leadership blog argued that what the absence of women really revealed was how few women lead major religious groups. She added:

And while there are certainly female professors of ethics and philosophy, women continue to be a minority in the academic world as well. A 2011 Catalyst study found that just 24 percent of tenured full professors in U.S. higher educational institutions are women and that just 38 percent of associate professors are female.

Maloney ultimately returned to the proceedings, Politico reports, and two women were scheduled to testify in the second panel, Dr. Allison Dabs Garrett, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Oklahoma Christian University, and Laura Champion, M.D., Medical Director at Calvin College Health Services. According to the Denver Post, Campion wasn't originally on the witness list but was added shortly before the hearing.

Watch other reactions to the hearing above.

FOLLOW HUFFPOST WOMEN