I got word today that Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee Hearing for Thursday, 23 Feb. The subject is Women’s Health. The sole witness will be Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law Student blocked from testifying last week at the House Oversight and Government Reform hearing. The subject of this hearing was birth control and religious freedom. By now you’ve probably heard about the panel that presented that morning–no women were present. The afternoon session included two women who spoke out against Obama’s plan for birth control access through insurance.
While I’m glad Leader Pelosi is taking action, I do wish she were rounding out the panel so that we could hear from more people with direct knowledge and a range of experience with this issue. The majority of Americans favor Obama’s proposed plan and statistics show that 60% of women on the Pill use it to control medical conditions. I’ve been part of that 60%.
In college, I had such bad cramps that I missed class and exams. Going on the Pill cleared up that problem. Years later, I dealt with painful ovarian cysts that resulted in emergency surgery. My doctor at the time recommended using the Pill to ease this situation. In the end, I opted to try acupuncture and Chinese herbs because of the side effects from birth control pills. But I guess the Pill is on the table for me again as I head into my mid-forties and perimenopausal symptoms flare up. Like so many women, access to birth control is an issue that resonates with me. The personal has once again become political.
This brings me back to the hearing Leader Pelosi has scheduled for this Thursday. News of the botched hearing by Republican leaders last week infuriated women and men across the country. Republican presidential candidates have spoken out against Obama’s plan. Organizations like Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet and others have circulated petitions in favor of Obama’s plan. This issue has people speaking out and keeping up on the news.
However, you might have a hard time accessing Thursday’s hearing via video. Generally, these meetings are covered by the House Recording Studio. From Pelosi’s press office:
Since the beginning of 2011, the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee has held 8 hearings on various topics. The House Recording Studio has always either covered these hearings or told us that they could not because their resources were already booked for coverage of standing committees. This is the first time the Democratic leadership has been told that the HRS cannot cover this hearing because it is a hearing of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.
Leader Pelosi is trying to remedy the Republican exclusion of Sandra Fluke’s testimony from last week’s hearing. Jennifer Halberkorn published an article in Politico today on Pelosi’s scheduled meeting. She references a policy that Democrats and Republicans coordinated in 2008 concerning use of the House Recording Studio to lift restrictions on use for leadership.
Salley Wood, a spokeswoman for Republicans on the Committee on House Administration, said the policy wasn’t updated in 2008. Instead, she said the recording studio is operating under policies set in 2005.
Wood said the committee did not play a role in the decision not to broadcast this week’s hearing.
Pelosi’s office said this event is the first in which the studio has not covered a hearing or told Democrats that it couldn’t because of other commitments.
This is a developing story and I’m following up to find out more details about why the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee has been blocked from using the House Recording Studio. There seems to be some back and forth going on. Politics as usual? I don’t want to believe that Republicans would intentionally try to silence women’s voice on the issue of reproductive freedom.