An Open Letter To Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro

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Commentary Contraception

An Open Letter To Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro

Avital Norman Nathman

This is an open letter of thanks to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D - CT) after watching her speak at the House hearing today on religious freedom and birth control.

For all our coverage of the 2012 House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Hearing, click here.

For all our coverage of the 2012 Contraceptive Mandate, click here.

Dear Congresswoman DeLauro,

It it with pride and appreciation that I find myself writing this letter to you. Sadly, I am also fueled to write this letter out of anger, frustration and indignation.

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Earlier today I was glued to the live feed of Representative Darrell Issa’s hearing on religious freedom and birth control. The hearing, spurred by the ongoing controversy over HHS regulations on birth control coverage by religious employers, included a panel of religious leaders of various denominations.

At first, I was shocked. Here was a panel, convened to discuss issues of birth control, and not one of them was a woman.

Panel on birth control & religious freedom

My shock quickly turned to outrage as I listened to these men discuss issues intimately connected to women without a second thought that something was missing – that some voice was missing. It was incredibly telling that many of your female colleagues walked out of the hearing in disgust and anger at the lack of women involved.

My anger was tempered slightly as I watched some of your colleagues speak, pointing out what I had noticed – that in a discussion about birth control, the fact that there were no women present on the panel was indeed a huge oversight. However, any comfort I felt in that was challenged again as other Representatives made sweeping statements about first Amendment rights violations. A lot of buzzwords and catch phrases were tossed around, with both panel members and various Representatives claiming that liberty and freedom was being infringed upon with the decision to make all businesses (regardless of religion) provide coverage for birth control.

We heard from both sides of the debate, but sadly, we heard from very few women. Then I saw a familiar face. I may live in Massachusetts now, but as a former nutmegger, I was once a constituent of yours, and literally felt a wave of relief when I realized you were about to speak.

You brought up crucial points that many seemed to be missing – that any church led business must act like a business and provide for the people that work for them, and that includes allowing them access to have insurance-covered birth control. You reminded everyone that contraceptive coverage is both outstanding and overdue in relation to women’s health. You stood up as a Catholic, and made the point that you support the new guidelines not in spite of being a Catholic, but because you are a Catholic.

I knew you would bring clarity, perspective, and common sense to this issue. And you did…only to be rudely cut off just minutes in.

I wish you would have been given the time to finish your thoughts, as they were sorely needed in the discussion. As I stated at the beginning of this letter, I felt pride in watching you not waver in your belief and knowledge in what is right in this situation. I was proud that you did not back down in your stance to promote and protect women’s health and access to insurance-covered birth control. I commend you on taking on not only the panel, but your colleagues that support it. While the number of women even sitting in that room this morning was appallingly low, thank you for attempting to give us voice and speak to the truth of the situation – it is appreciated by many.

Please continue to fight for the women in this country, Congresswoman DeLauro. Please continue to be our much needed voice when it’s clear that many neither value or trust in it.

I am still flabbergasted that we live in a country that is even having hearings like this. I am dismayed that issues like access to birth control are even being brought up for Congressional debate. Yet I’m heartened that we have folks like you, and Representatives Davis, Cummings, Clay, and others speak up for what, according to Representative Connolly, surely looked like a sham and a shameful exercise.

In support & gratitude,

Avital Norman Nathman

This letter was originally posted at The Mamafesto.