News / USA

Access to Birth Control Sparks US Political Controversy

Cindy Saine

Women's access to birth control pills has emerged as a hotly-debated topic on Capitol Hill and in the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign.  The Obama administration fueled the debate by proposing that all employers -- including religious institutions such as hospitals and universities, but not churches -- be required to offer health insurance plans to their employees that include free contraception. .

"What I want to know is 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," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

Democratic lawmakers expressed outrage when the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the Obama administration's birth control coverage mandate.

Republican chairman Darrell Issa defended the panel.

"This hearing is about religious freedom.  As you will note, the men that you have noted come from denominations other than Roman Catholic," he said.

A week later, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held a hearing on women's health and birth control, and invited the woman witness that Democrats wanted for Issa's panel

"Democrats are prepared to hear from a single witness today, our Georgetown [University] law student Sandra Fluke," Pelosi said.

Fluke said the Roman Catholic university she attends does not cover birth control as part of its health insurance plan for students.

"Contraception, when it first became available, was a revolution in this country.  It allowed women to enter employment and educational opportunities that had previously not been accessible because they were unable to control their reproduction in the same way.  And I just can't imagine rolling back the clock on that progress," Fluke said.  

Birth control is also an issue in the U.S. presidential race.  Republican hopeful Rick Santorum speaks out repeatedly against birth control.

"Many in the Christian faith have said, 'Well, that's okay; contraception is okay.'  It is not okay.  It is a license to do things in the sexual realm that are counter to how things are supposed to be," Santorum said.

Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call writer Ambreen Ali says she did not expect birth control to be a campaign issue.

"Given the way that the economy was going for the past couple of years and the focus on jobs, it is a little bit surprising that we are talking about a social issue such as birth control.  But this has always, you know, women's health and abortion and birth control has always been a really big issue in this country," Ali said.

Some political analysts say criticism of the president over birth control might help Republican presidential hopefuls win over conservative voters in their primary election fights, but that it will likely hurt their chances with women voters in the general election.  Recent surveys show President Obama's public approval rating among women is climbing.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs