WASHINGTON – For Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, waking up to read the news this morning was like “stepping into a time machine and traveling back 50 years.”
The first shock, she said, came when she read about an oversight hearing held in the House Thursday on women’s access to birth control.
“The only thing was … there wasn’t any women,” she said in a speech on the Senate floor.
And the Democratic senator said the second shock came when she read that a top financial contributor to GOP presidential candidate Rick
Santorum gave a television interview in which he “suggested that contraception was once as simple as a woman putting Aspirin between
“It was appalling,” Murray told her colleagues. “It was an insult to women everywhere.”
Murray and others criticized a House committee led by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California for having no women included on the first
panel of five witnesses to testify on contraception issues during a highly-charged hearing on Thursday. (Two women testified against the
plan in a second panel.)
Issa called the hearing to allow religious leaders to testify against an Obama administration proposal announced last week that would have
required church-affiliated employers to cover birth control in their health plans. After an initial uproar, the administration changed its
proposal to require that insurance companies pay the costs of birth control instead of the religious employers.
Issa titled his hearing: “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion
and Freedom of Conscience?”
Santorum got ensnared in the contoversy when Foster Friess, a Wyoming multimillionaire who is financing a super political action committee for Santorum, told MSNBC that women once used aspirin effective to avoid getting pregnant.
“The gals put it between their legs and it wasn’t that costly,” he said.
Santorum dismissed the incident, saying his friend told a bad joke.
In her speech, Murray said it’s all a part of a pattern where the GOP is “waging a war on women’s health.”
“Contraceptive coverage shouldn’t be a controversial issue,” she said. “It’s supported by the vast majority of Americans who understand how
important it is for women and families. But Republicans have made clear from the start that this isn’t about what’s best for women, men,
and their family planning decisions. This is about their political calculations.”