Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) convened an all-male panel for a February 16, 2012, Capitol Hill hearing on birth control availability. Issa barred a minority witness—in this case a woman—from testifying at the hearing. Issa reasoned that his hearing was addressing the issue of “religious freedom,” not a woman’s right to healthcare, and therefore the female witness, Sandra Fluke, could be excluded on the grounds she was not a member of the clergy.
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy resulting from rape is] really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.’ ”
“Just remember, consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry. Because all of a sudden a young lady gets pregnant and the parents are madder than a wet hen and she’s not going to say, ‘Oh, yeah, I was part of the program.’ All that she has to say or the parents have to say is it was rape because she’s underage. Some girls, they rape so easy. It may be rape the next morning.”
Rivard’s comments were given in justifying the forcible rape of a 14-year-old girl. The rapist, 17-year-old Dennis Veldman, served 90 days in jail after plea-bargaining on three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault. Upon his release, Veldman—who evidently has further issues Rivard might rationalize—broke a 13-year-old boy’s nose and went back to jail.
Idaho State Senator Chuck Winder has proposed that any woman seeking an abortion in Idaho be required to submit to two ultrasounds, including one at an anti-choice “crisis pregnancy center.” Further, Winder proposed a plan in March 2012 to remove the “rape issue” from the abortion debate: “Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this. I would hope that when a woman goes into a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape?”
Sam Brownback—Keeping Kansas ‘Reasonably’ Unreasonable
In May 2012, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed into law a bill that allowed pharmacists and doctors to deny women access to contraception. Known as the Health Care Rights of Conscience Act, the law exempts medical practitioners from prescribing or dispensing a drug they “reasonably believe” might violate the practitioner’s religious convictions.
In effect, pharmacists in Kansas have the right to withhold contraceptive medication prescribed by a doctor, even if the woman seeking that medication is a rape victim, because God told that pharmacist to.
Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Mike Kelly—The Contraceptive Apocalypse
The hyperbole bug bit freshman Pennsylvania Republican Mike Kelly on August 1, 2012, the day that new institutional insurance plans were due to begin covering birth control and other women’s preventative healthcare services without a copay:
“I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked. One is December 7th, that’s Pearl Harbor day. The other is September 11th, and that’s the day of the terrorist attack. I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.”