The Testimony About Birth Control Republicans Did Not Want You To Hear

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"The Testimony About Birth Control Republicans Did Not Want You To Hear"

Sandra Fluke, left, after leaving the hearing (Source: Atlantic Wire)

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) held a hearing today about the Obama administration’s new regulation requiring employers and insurers to provide contraception coverage to their employees, but they prevented women from testifying on the issue.

Democrats had invited Sandra Fluke, a third year law student at Georgetown University, a Jesuit school, but Issa prevented her from testifying. Issa said that he had not found Fluke “appropriate and qualified” to testify before his committee. Fluke later posted her testimony on YouTube.

In her testimony, Fluke describes the financial barriers for female law students at Georgetown who need contraception because the school does not offer birth control coverage in its student health insurance plans. Contraception can cost women up to $3,000 over the course of law school without the coverage, she said, which adds up to an entire summer’s salary for students on public interest scholarships. And 40 percent of women at Georgetown Law say they struggle financially because of the policy. “Just on Tuesday, a married female student told me she had to stop using contraception because she couldn’t afford it any longer,” Fluke wrote.

For some women, the consequences of forgoing birth control can be severe:

A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome and has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries. [...] After months of paying over $100 out of pocket, she just couldn’t afford her medication anymore and had to stop taking it. [...] Without taking the birth control, a massive cyst had grown on her ovary. She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary. [...]

Since last year’s surgery, she’s been experiencing night sweats, weight gain, and other symptoms of early menopause as a result of the removal of her ovary. She’s 32 years old. As she put it: “If my body is indeed in early menopause, no fertility specialist in the world will be able to help me have my own children.”

Watch Fluke offer her testimony here:

Fluke’s testimony and the experiences of her fellow law students could have been important stories for members of Congress to hear about the real impact that having or not having insurance coverage for contraception can have on women.

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