Sisters Who Photo Shop

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

 (Title pun intended.)

Yesterday I listened to a host on MSNBC refer to Thursday’s House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on religious-liberty violations in the HHS mandate as an “all-male hearing.” On the Senate floor, Patty Murray used the same description.

That’s simply not true.

Yes, the first hearing panel on Thursday had all men testifying on that particular panel of ecumenical religious leaders. But the second panel was not an all-male panel. As I have noted before — and you can see for yourself — there were two women on the second panel of the hearing, one of whom is a medical doctor.

Had Carolyn Maloney and Eleanor Holmes Norton stuck around for the second panel instead of walking out in favor of media appearances, they could have interacted with the women — and even lectured them for aiding and abetting male defenders of the First Amendment, which was Representative Maloney’s approach to Bishop William Lori on the first panel.

Barbara Boxer has been comparing Thursday’s hearing and its potential aftermath to Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings — likening her outrage now, in response to that first panel, to her outrage then at the absence of women senators on that Senate Committee. But with that comparison the senator ignores that it is 20 years later and that there were women asking questions at the hearing Thursday. (Who’s turning back the clock now?)

Abortion-advocacy groups had a field day sending out fundraising e-mails based on the image of the first panel, framing it as men talking about women’s health. Duh, Nancy Pelosi indignantly protested, telling reporters that women should talk about women’s issues, and even going as far as suggesting she might have to act as a women’s biology adviser to the committee.

But then, maybe Ann Marie Buerkle, the nurse who happens to be a member of that committee — and a woman! — can handle any questions that come up. 

How absurd. 

Particularly given the fact that we are talking about religious liberty in the HHS-mandate debate. Its erosion affects men as much as women. And those who appear to be stuck on contraception are the White House and its allies.