Monday, February 20, 2012

Tense Opening Moments in House Committee Hearing on Birth Control Coverage

Posted By on Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 2:56 PM

It was standing room only at Room EW 42 of the Idaho Statehouse this afternoon. In fact, it was a bit too crowded.

"We're close to violating a fire code with so many people coming in here," said Idaho Falls Rep. Janice McGeachin, chair of the House Health and Welfare Committee as she gaveled the meeting to order.

Lawmakers on the committee are taking up House Bill 530, which would impose restrictions on insurance coverage for contraceptives. Emmett Rep. Carlos Bilbao wants to exempt Idaho insurers from a federal requirement to provide coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. The Affordable Care Act mandates such coverage, but Bilbao said he wants employers and carriers to "opt out" when it comes to birth control.

The first speaker set the pace for what promised to be a tense afternoon.

"I'm kind of surprised there are so few women on this committee," said Yvette Sedlewicz of Boise.

McGeachin quickly pounded the gavel.

"You're making commentary," said McGeachin.

Sedlewicz continued for approximately one minute, saying:

"In Afghanistan, they sell their daughters into marriage and stone women for adultery. Is that what you're after?"

The comment was met with another gavel from McGeachin.

"You're speaking to the motives and that is not appropriate," said McGeachin.

Emmett Rep. Steve Thayn asked Sedlewicz if she thought the bill would ban contraception.

"No," replied Sedlewicz. "But it puts women in a bind to afford contraception."

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