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Roundtable: Battle Over Birth Control

Birth Control Battles: March 8 Roundtable
Roundtable: Battle Over Birth Control
Guests: Katie Orr, KPBS News Metro Reporter Andrew Donohue, Editor, voiceofsandiego.orgAlisa Joyce Barba, Senior Editor, Fronteras Changing America Desk

San Diego Congressman Darrell Issa stirred up a hornet's nest when, as chair of the House Government Oversight Committee, he scheduled a hearing on the federal healthcare mandate that all employers offer contraception with no copay.

Issa’s panel on whether the mandate infringed on religious employers' faith was made up of all men.


But the debate went a step further when Rush Limbaugh attacked a Georgetown University law student who wanted to testify on the panel.

While opposition to the birth control mandate was expected, Limbaugh “took it to a whole different level,” Alisa Joyce Barba, senior editor at Fronteras Changing America Desk, told KPBS Television’s “Evening Edition.”

“What has been interesting is the Republican campaigners for the Republican nomination for president haven’t denounced him,” she said. “They basically didn’t like the way he put it, but they went along with him for criticizing her for her so-called sexual promiscuity. I think that has been very shocking to a lot of women.”

“The idea that by practicing birth control, that you’re suddenly a slut or a whore, or sexually promiscuous, does not track for most American women,” she added. “I think there’s a shock factor that she’s being attacked and that people are not coming down on Rush Limbaugh like a ton of bricks.”

Andrew Donohue, editor of, said the people controlling discussions about birth control are all men. He added that the Republican presidential candidates’ support for Limbaugh is telling.


“It really shows you how socially conservative the Republican party is right now,” he said. “And how much that’s actually driving the Republican presidential race. It was shocking to me that we were talking about these social issues a lot of people thought we’d moved past.”

Barba added that women in her generation and the younger generation take these issues for granted.

“I think what’s going on right now is a fabulous wakeup call,” she said. “If somebody like Rick Santorum becomes president and begins to restrict access to birth control, which is very possible in this world, I think you’ll see a lot more women in the streets.”