Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out of the House Oversight Committee's hearing on the White House mandate requiring employers and insurers to provide contraception coverage after Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) refused to allow women to testify as witnesses on Thursday morning.
"What I want to know is, where are the women?" Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) asked Issa before walking out of the hearing after the first panel. "I look at this panel, and I don't see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventative health care services, including family planning. Where are the women?"
Ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) had asked Issa to include a female witness at the hearing, but the Chairman refused, arguing that "As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration's actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness."
And so Cummings, along with the Democratic women on the panel, took their request to the hearing room, demanding that Issa consider the testimony of a female college student. But the California congressman insisted that the hearing should focus on the rules' alleged infringement on "religious liberty," not contraception coverage, and denied the request. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out of the hearing in protest of his decision, citing frustration over the fact that the first panel of witnesses consisted only of male religious leaders against the rule. Holmes Norton said she will not return, calling Issa's chairmanship an "autocratic regime."
"Five men are testifying on women's health," Pelosi said. "Where are the women? Imagine having a panel on women's health and they don't have any women on the panel."
She paused, and then added, "Duh!"