|The Panel Congress Needs to Hear From|
by Sarah Audelo, Senior Manager, Domestic Policy
After last week's birth control hearing debacle (at which initially, no women were permitted to speak), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has announced that the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee will be hosting a hearing on “Women’s Health” According to the announcement:
While great to give Sandra a space to testify (the story she shares is incredibly compelling-you can click here to listen to what she would have said last week at the Oversight hearing), I must admit that my initial reaction was disappointment in the fact that Sandra is the only person sharing testimony.
Lizzie Jekanowski & Jessika Parry, Co-Presidents of Boston College Students for Sexual Health (BCSSH), “a student group whose mission is to fight for the health education and resources we need and deserve.” In 2009, BCSSH organized a student referendum where with one of the largest voter turnouts, almost 90% of students voted to expand sexual health services on campus-including prescriptions for birth control from their student health center.
Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice, and organization that “strive[s] to be an expression of Catholicism as it is lived by ordinary people. We are part of the great majority of the faithful in the Catholic church who disagrees with the dictates of the Vatican on matters related to sex, marriage, family life and motherhood. We are part of the great majority who believes that Catholic teachings on conscience mean that every individual must follow his or her own conscience -- and respect others' right to do the same.”
Kim (last name withheld for privacy reasons) or other young women who benefitted from the Affordable Care Act’s provision allowing young people to stay on their parent’s health insurance. While incredibly helpful when Kim was searching for a job after graduating from college, Kim’s Mom worked at a religious-affiliated hospital and therefore contraception was not covered in her health plan. Kim had to pay out-of-pocket.
Rev. Carlton Veazey, former President of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Rev. Veazey is a “a minister of the National Baptist Convention U.S.A. Reverend Veazey is founder of the Coalition's celebrated National Black Church Initiative, which is breaking the silence in African American churches about sex and sexuality. His long and distinguished career in the ministry and public service and his commitment to social justice brought him to the presidency of the coalition of religious groups from 15 denominations and faith traditions.”
Rachel K. Jones and Joerg Dreweke who authored the Guttmacher Institute report “Countering Conventional Wisdom: New Evidence on Religion and Contraceptive Use.” In this report the authors discuss actual (instead of what “leaders” push) contraceptive usage of women (married and un-married) of various faiths.
April Flores, a student leader with the Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter at the University of Texas at Brownsville. April is a teen mom and uses her personal story to advocate for young people’s sexual health and rights in her community. She participated in (along with young people across the country) a Valentine’s Day Action showing support for contraceptive access in a district represented by Rep. Farenthold, the Member of Congress who compared the Administration’s rule on contraception to smoking bans at the Oversight hearing.
And of course…Sandra Fluke. The issue of using birth control for medical reasons is an important one that must also be shared. We as a movement just have to be cautious that this is not the only perspective we speak about, even if it makes people feel less awkward. At the end of the day, women (married and un-married) do have sex and don’t always want to conceive as a result of it!
Contraceptive access is an important issue. One that the majority of Americans support. One that I as a Millennial never thought I’d have to be fighting for. I need Congress to take this as seriously as the young women I work with.