msnbc | February 17, 2012
>>> where are the women ? when i look at this panel, i don't see one single woman . don't we owe it to the tens of millions of american women whose lives will be affected who will let just one, one woman speak on their behalf today on this panel?
>> where are the women ? that was the big question posed by congresswoman carolyn maloney on insurance coverage for contraception. maloney and another democrat asked for the addition of a female college student to the panel. they were denied. eleanor holmes norton left in protest, maloney who also left the hearing said she did not leave in protest, but left for another reason. and she talked to me this morning about the notable lack of women there.
>> when you left that hearing because there were so few women there practically zero either on the panel or on the committee that it almost looked like a walkout because when you left there were no women there.
>> congresswoman, yesterday on andrea mitchell 's show, foster friess had this to say about women 's contraception.
>> back in my days, you used bayer aspirin for contraception, the gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly.
>> excuse me. i'm just trying to catch my breath from that, mr. friess.
>> when we talk about that sound bite from andrea mitchell 's show, this is really just that microcosm of the way certain people think about women 's contraceptive health in this country. do you think that is indicative of the conversation that's taking place in this political arena right now? or do you think he was really off message, doesn't mean that, and rick santorum is off message, as well, when it comes to women 's health issues.
>> rick santorum is very clear. he doesn't believe in the use of contraceptives. he said that in many television interviews, and mr. friess, i'd like to ask him what century he woke up in. this is the 21st century and griswold versus connecticut has been overturned that allowed the use of contraceptives between a married couple. but i think many like him would like to return us to the day where government's reach went into women 's lives, their bodies, what they could have access to, and while i've been in congress, i've seen a constant chipping away at a woman's right to choose by the right-wing republican majority. but now i'm beginning to see an attempt to roll back a woman's right to contraceptive access. it's to me outrageous, it's troubling, and quite frankly quite scary. i would say about mr. friess, another problem with him and others like him is the supreme court decision that allows people like him to have an undue influence on american elections by being able to give unlimited billions, hundreds of millions to the so-called super pac to influence elections, which certainly does -- his view does not reflect the view of the majority of american women . 99% of whom use some form of birth control during their lives. and to try to deny them that access is just plain wrong. i applaud president obama and his administration for allowing women , if they so choose, to purchase contraceptives from their insurance plan. in no way does it infringe on anyone's religious beliefs . they don't have to provide them. they don't have to use them, they don't have to prescribe them. this is totally separate.
>> congresswoman, why do you think this issue in this conversation has become so pivotal for women in america right now?
>> well, because women feel very much under siege. we have ballot initiatives across the country. in certain states that would literally roll us back to the days where women would not have access to contraceptives. we have state laws that require them against their will to submit to sonograms. we have all kinds of laws that are really attacking basic rights of women . what i find so unusual, tom, we have a lot of laws in our country that the majority rules and it becomes the law and no one objects -- i don't object that my tax dollars are being spent for wars that i don't support. the majority rules . i am opposed to capital punishment , but in some cases it's implemented by the federal government and by some states. so you don't see this outcry from religious leaders. but when it comes to a woman's decision, her body, her most personal decisions about her health care , the spacing of her children, her health, all of a sudden there's this huge uproar. we had a woman, a young college student we wanted to speak yesterday. she's at georgetown university , and she was going to speak about the use of birth control for other illnesses that are needed by young women to help them keep their reproductive bodies working appropriately. reproductive health care and really birth control is used in many cases for other unrelated medical conditions such as endegree me endometriosys. under the president's plan, it will be covered. thank you, president obama , and your administration, it's a step forward for american women , it's a step forward for religious freedom , and i would say conscious freedom and the freedom of women to have the right to choose and right to make decisions about their own health care .
>> congresswoman carolyn maloney , thanks for taking time out to join me this morning. i appreciate it.
>> thank you so much for your interest. thank you.