Seven years later, an answer to the question, ‘Where are the women?’

Jun 6, 2019
In The News

A panel of women appear before the House Judiciary Committee for a hearing on women's reproductive health, June 4, 2016.

Via Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon/Twitter

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing this week on threats to reproductive rights, and while witness lists tend not to be especially noteworthy, in this case, these participants had something important in common:

Ms. Melissa Murray Esq
Professor of Law, NYU School of Law

Ms. Busy Philipps
Actor and Advocate

Dr. Yashica Robinson M.D. 
Medical Director, Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives

Ms. Christina Bennett
Communications Director, Family Institute of Connecticut

Ms. Melissa Ohden
Kansas City, Missouri

Ms. Jennifer Dalven
Director, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project

Dr. Owen Phillips M.D. 
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Ms. H.K. Gray 
Activist, Youth Testify

As the above photo makes clear, the common thread tying the witnesses together was gender: they’re all women.

And while that makes sense given the subject matter – American women’s reproductive rights are clearly in jeopardy – the hearing immediately brought to mind a panel assembled by House Republicans in February 2012, when there was a GOP majority in the chamber.

A panel of male religious officials testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.

Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

The House Oversight Committee, led at the time by then-Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), held a similar hearing on reproductive rights, which featured an opening panel with five witnesses. Each of the five were men.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) asked a good question at the time: “Where are the women? When I look at this panel, I don’t see one, single woman representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need coverage for basic preventive health care services.”

Soon after, most the Democratic women on the panel left the room in protest.

Taken together, they create revelatory bookends, don’t they?