Religious leaders from several faiths testified before a House committee today that the health care mandate to provide free birth control infringes on religious freedom. Democratic women on Capitol Hill were outraged that the Oversight and Government Reform Committee panel was missing any female voices.
Witnesses on the first panel were religious leaders of various congregations. But they were all male.
Democrats asked the committee chairman Darrell Issa where the women were, since the issue of contraception was of interest to them. The Republican from Temecula said the hearing wasn't on "the policies or the details related to the single issue of Obamacare and this particular mandate. This hearing is about religious freedom."
He drove home that message with posters outside the hearing room showing Dr. Martin Luther King and President John F. Kennedy. Chairman Issa sent out a series of tweets, asking, “What would MLK say about @WhiteHouse & @BarackObama trampling religious freedom?”
The Most Reverend William Lori, Roman Catholic Bishop of Bridgeport, Conn. compared the requirement to provide free contraceptives to requiring Orthodox Jewish organizations to serve pork. Catholic Bishops have rejected a White House compromise on the birth control issue.
Issa asked Rabbi Meier Soloveichik of Yeshiva University whether he believed the president's administration was "working to subvert the guarantees of religious liberty." Rabbi Soloveichik said, "Absolutely. That is what the current policy does in effect."
Democratic women elsewhere on Capitol Hill criticized the hearing. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said: “Imagine having a panel on women’s health and they don’t have any women on the panel. Duh.”