Pelosi decries all-male hearing on abortion

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blasted the Republican Party for refusing to allow Washington, D.C., Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) to testify at a hearing about federal funding for abortion. 

“America’s women deserve better than eight Republican men trying to dictate and control the most intimate medical decisions in their lives,” she Pelosi asserted to the Judiciary Committee’s subpanel on the Constitution and Civil Justice.

ADVERTISEMENT
“It’s no wonder that House Republicans have to keep taking lessons on how to talk to women,” Pelosi said in a statement. “When you have a subcommittee that is 100 percent male considering legislation restricting women’s rights and denying a woman Member of Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, the ability to testify on that legislation, it’s pretty clear those lessons aren’t taking." 

The hearing pertained to The No Tax Payer Funding for Abortion Act, which would permanently deny the use of federal funds for abortions. The bill would also extend to Washington, D.C. 

A long-held law, the Hyde Amendment, already prevents the federal government from subsiding abortion. But it is temporary and requires Congress to attach the restriction to spending bills each year. The new bill would make the yearly attachment unnecessary. 

Holmes Norton, who opposes the measure, said Chairman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) went against a long-standing tradition of letting members testify about bills that directly affect their constituents. Franks made the same move in the last Congress, according to Holmes Norton. 

Pelosi said the Republicans are renewing their “assault on women’s reproductive rights,” a popular refrain during the 2012 elections. 

During the campaign in 2012, Sandra Fluke became a national figure after she was prevented from testifying at a House Oversight Committee hearing regarding the administration’s contraception mandate. Republicans took heat for the nearly all-male witness panel at the time, a slightly different dynamic than Thursday's hearing. 

“At today’s hearing we saw the latest round in the Republican war on women and a woman’s constitutionally protected right to make decisions about her own body,” ranking member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said after the hearing.