"I get such a chuckle when these things come out. Here we have millions of our fellow Americans unemployed, we have jihadist camps being set up in Latin America, which Rick has been warning about, and people seem to be so preoccupied with sex. I think that says something about our culture. We maybe need a massive therapy session so we can concentrate on what the real issues are. And this contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s such inexpensive. Back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”
Followed by two beats of silence, Mitchell’s response says it all: “Um, Mr. Friess, I’m trying to catch my breath from that, frankly. Let’s change the subject.”
Rick Santorum, a Catholic, also seemed eager to change the subject when asked about Friess' remarks. Santorum opposes contraception but called Friess' comment "a stupid joke" and "in bad taste." But he also told Fox News that Friess was "a good man" and "a great philanthropist."
Friess, on his website, later apologized for his comments:
"Today on Andrea Mitchell’s show, my aspirin joke bombed as many didn’t recognize it as a joke but thought it was my prescription for today’s birth control practices. In fact, the only positive comments I got were from folks who remembered it from 50 years back. Birth control pills weren’t yet available, so everyone laughed at the silliness on how an aspirin could become a birth control pill."
Friess’ frankly weird remark just capped off a truly weird day in gender politics in the nation’s capital. First, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) of Calif. was zinging one liners all over the place. Huffington Post reports thus:
“I think it’s really curiouser and curiouser that as we get further into this debate, the Republican leadership of this Congress thinks it’s appropriate to have a hearing on the subject of women’s health and can purposely exclude women from the panel,” Pelosi said during a press conference. “What else do you need to know about the subject?”
“If you need to know more, tune in, I may, I may at some point be moved to explain biology to my colleagues.”
What panel was Pelosi speaking of? Well, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing Thursday entitled “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” that had the following panelists during its first session:
The Most Reverend William E. Lori Roman Catholic Bishop of Bridgeport, CTChairman Ad Hoc Committee for Religious LibertyUnited States Conference of Catholic BishopsTnT Form The Reverend Dr. Matthew C. Harrison PresidentThe Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D. Graves Professor of Moral PhilosophyUnion University Rabbi Meir Soloveichik Director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western ThoughtYeshiva UniversityAssociate RabbiCongregation Kehilath Jeshurun Craig Mitchell, Ph.D. Associate Professor of EthicsChair of the Ethics DepartmentAssociate Director of the Richard Land Center for Cultural EngagementSouthwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
As you can see, there are no women on that panel. In protest, then, three Democratic members of the committee - Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D.C.) and Mike Quigley (Ill.) - walked out in protest.
“What I want to know is, where are the women?” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D) of N.Y asked Committee chair Rep. Darrell Issa's (R) of Calif. before walking out of the hearing after the first panel. “I look at this panel, and I don’t see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventative health care services, including family planning. Where are the women?”
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