The Ed Show | February 16, 2012
FRIESS: This contraceptive thing, my gosh. It's so inexpensive. Back in my days you used Bayer Aspirin for contraception . The gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly.
SCHULTZ: That was Foster Friess giving us some history, huh? The money man for the leading candidate for Republicans which would be Rick Santorum , summing up the Republican Party 's attitude towards women 's reproductive rights . The GOP war on women 's health continued in the House today. The Oversight Committee held a hearing on the Obama administration's decision to mandate coverage for birth control. Here's the first panel of witnesses.
UNIDENTIFIED MAEL: Reverend William Lori . Reverend Matthew Harrison. Dr. C. Ben Mitchell . Rabbi Soloveichik. Closes? Dr. Craig Mitchell .
SCHULTZ: You got it. Republicans called an entirely male panel to talk about women 's health. Women did not testify until this afternoon when two women joined three more men on a second panel. Not only were the vast majority of witnesses male, they were all called to testify by Republican members, because they seem to have all of the answers. The Democrats witness was rejected by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa . New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was not pleased with Issa 's decision.
REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: Mr. Chairman, I was deeply disturbed you reject our request to hear from a woman, a third-year student at Georgetown Law School named Sandra Fluke . Your staff told us you personally rejected Ms. Fluke 's testimony, saying that and I quote, "the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception ."
SCHULTZ: The entire motivation for the hearing was President Obama 's rule on contraception . Darrell Issa 's bogus excuse for denying the Democrats their witness proves his hearing was a complete farce. Joining me tonight is Sandra Fluke , the woman Congressman Darrell Issa rejected as a witness today. Ms. Fluke is a law student at Georgetown University . Great to have you with us tonight, Sandra . Now, I understand that you already planned your testimony. You were going to cite examples of people who could have benefited from President Obama 's mandate for birth control coverage. Share with us what you would have told that committee today.
SANDRA FLUKE, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW STUDENT: That is what I was there to speak to the committee about. That's why I was so stunned when Chairman Issa made the decision to not allow me to speak on behalf of those women and to say that I was not an appropriate witness, that those women 's stories were not appropriate for this committee . I cannot think of who would be more appropriate for the committee to hear from than the women affected by this policies whose lives were affected. One of the women I wanted to talk about today is a close friend of mine. She has polycystic ovarian syndrome. And what that means is that she needs to take contraception for medical reason, to prevent cysts from growing on her ovaries and not to prevent pregnancy. Now, that technically means it should be covered on Georgetown student health insurance which does not cover contraception for prevention of pregnancy. But unfortunately when university administrators and employers and insurance companies get involved in deciding whose health needs are legitimate and whose aren't, what happens is that women 's health needs take a back seat to that type of ideology. And that's what happened in her case and we found that that happens in 65 percent of the female students' cases. So, for her she was unable -- they repeatedly refused her contraception coverage claims and she had verification from her doctor. It didn't matter. So, she had to pay out of pocket about $100 a month for her, month after month after month. And eventually she just couldn't afford it like many students just cannot afford that kind of a cost. And she had to stop taking it. I have to tell you, it's -- so what happened is that after a few months of her not taking the prescription, a massive cyst grew on her ovary. And she woke up one night in the middle of the night in excruciating pain and told me it felt like she had been shot. And I just can't -- I can't imagine what that felt like for her. What ultimately happen is that she had that ovary surgically removed, she had to have it surgically removed. And as a result of that, she would have problems conceiving a child. But even more, it just hasn't stopped for her. She since the surgery she's experienced symptoms of early menopause , and her doctors are very concerned that at the age of 32, she is entering early menopause , which means that there will be nothing any doctor can do to help her to conceive a child. And it will also put her at risk for increased risk for cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis. And that's where she was this morning when I was attempting to tell her story to the public and to members of Congress , she was at the doctor's office trying to cope with the symptoms she's experiencing.
SCHULTZ: Sandra , you know, I know our audience appreciates the story you just told. That was tremendous testimony. And it's very powerful. I wish you would have had an opportunity to testify in front of Darrell Issa but they are politically bent. I want to know, what's it like -- you're a third-year law student at Georgetown . Are people on campus -- are they talking about this story, or has this really hit the attention of women that you interact with professionally in the school setting?
FLUKE: Oh, my goodness. Unless you studied at one of these schools, I can't even explain to you what it is like on campus. We have been following these regulations ever since the Affordable Care Act was passed. And it's a fight we've been having for years, literally decades students have been struggling for this. So, this makes such an incredible difference in our lives, in the lives of so many women . My friend is just one of the women who would benefit from this. And so, when we hear the regulations announced, when we hear updates on this situation, these policies, there is such jubilation, celebration on campus. People are so excited. They know I'm involved in this issue and they come and ask me questions about it and they are so excited about it. And they are so grateful --
FLUKE: -- that this policy is going to help protect vulnerable students in this way. We've tried to convince our universities to cover contraception and students at many other universities around the country have tried the same thing and they've turned a deaf ear to us. So, this is -- this is our hope. This is what we hope will help the women that I wanted to talk about this morning.
SCHULTZ: Sandra Fluke , I appreciate you being here tonight. I know they watch on Capitol Hill . Great testimony here on THE ED SHOW and I think you'll probably get an opportunity to talk more with people who will be in a position of making a decision that will affect the lives of women . I really appreciate you being with us tonight. Thank you so much .
FLUKE: Thank you for having me.
SCHULTZ: You bet. The testimony Sandra was going to give can be found on our blog, Ed. MSNBC.com . Now, let's turn to Caroline Heldman , professor of politics at Occidental College . Your reaction to that, Professor?
CAROLINE HELDMAN, OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE: Well, Ed , I'm wondering what Darrell Issa is so afraid of. He's afraid of a young woman in her 20s testifying about this? He's afraid of dissenting opinion? I mean, I think this is just -- it's sham politics. And it's politics -- partisan politics being played out on women 's bodies. And frankly, there is no issue here -- 98 percent of Catholic women already use contraceptives. More than half of the states in the Union have requirements similar to what can be found in the Obama health care act . And 77 percent of campuses, college campuses that have a Catholic affiliation already provide this. So, any time there is smoke in politics but no fire, you have to ask what's going on. And I think it's really clear that Republicans are trying to use this to drive -- as a wedge issue to scare people that Obama is persecuting religious people and also to paint him as not being Christian. You know, one in five Americans believe he's Muslim and perhaps that number will go up after this campaign of misinformation.
SCHULTZ: Caroline , what kind of political price do you think the Republicans could pay for this? Is this really on the radar screen, and is this such a terrible political misstep? I feel bad asking that question because this is such a serious issue for women 's health in America , that it would turn out to be a political football . I can't believe they're going down this road. I give you an example -- today, when that gentleman who supports Rick Santorum -- I use this comment on my radio show . I interviewed Senator Barbara Boxer on my radio show today. I read her the quote that we played at the beginning of the segment where the guy bankrolling Santorum 's super PAC talked about women heading aspirin between their knees as contraception . It was the first time Senator Boxer had heard the quote. Here's her reaction. I want to play it for you.
SCHULTZ: The billionaire who was supporting Rick Santorum says that - did you know that gals just used to put aspirin between their knees for contraception ? SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: What?
SCHULTZ: Yes. Yes. That's right . I'm just reading it now. It was just a simpler time. There was other ways to deal with female sexual desire.
BOXER: Oh stop.
SCHULTZ: The senator left speechless. That pretty much sums up where women in America are, you think?
HELDMAN: Well, yes, this is new information. I don't think a lot of women know about aspirin. It sounds a little painful to me. Or perhaps if you were a woman or listened to women , he would know that. I just think it's fascinating that we live in a society where certain segments just embrace patriarchy to, you know, this idea that men's bodies are valuable, but women 's are not. And they are so threatened by women 's sexual freedom. I mean, we are really back in 1973 with Roe v. Wade here.
SCHULTZ: Yes. Well --
HELDMAN: It's such a ridiculous argument.
SCHULTZ: There's one candidate out there that definitely wants to attack that, too. Caroline Heldman , professor at Occidental -- thank you for joining us tonight. I appreciate it