Over the last couple of weeks, a major women’s health issue has been one of the top stories in the news, consistently making the national headlines–but it seems the conversation has been less about how this issue pertains to women in America and more about how it pertains to American politics.

Birth control legislation: the background

In brief, the national discussion is over whether or not legislation will require most health insurance plans to cover birth control for women, including those insurance companies utilized by religious institutions (though the religious institutions themselves would neither be required to provide or subsidize birth control to women).

To pull a quote from an article in The New York Times, Illinois Representative Joe Walsh insisted that “This is not about women. This is not about birth control. This is about religious freedom.”

The thing is, whether America likes it or not, it is about women, and women have unfortunately been largely excluded from the conversation. New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand brings to light how male-dominated the conversation of women’s birth control has been in this short video:

Incredibly enough, a hearing last week pertaining to this issue featured a panel made up entirely of men, indicating that men would play the leading, if not unanimous role in ultimately passing legislation that will affect an entire nation of women.

Beyond birth control legislation: the need for women’s voices

With this exclusion in mind, it becomes clear that there are bigger issues at stake here than birth control. The take home message, articulated by Senator Gillibrand, is this:

“We need more women’s voices in our decision-making process. We need more women at the table in government and in business. When women are at the table, they bring a very different perspective to the same problems, a different set of solutions, a different approach, and I think at the end of the day, the outcomes are better when women’s voices are heard.”

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