Shades of Stokely Carmichael: Where Is the Female Leadership in the Health Reform Summit?

So, like any good policy wonk, first thing this morning, as always, was my coffee and skimming the Washington Post Politics Morning Edition. I was particularly eager to read the Post this morning since, after all the healthcare hullabaloo of the last year, today is: White House Health Summit Day.

The relevant Washington Post article turned-out to be: Democrats Looking Past Summit to Final Talks.”

The relevant article attachment was: “Guest List,” which connects you to an AP story: Who’s Invited to the Healthcare Summit.”

Turns out, 38 people were invited. But who, you ask?

Well, of course, if you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ll be wondering how many women were invited. Girls, hold your breath. Here’s your answer, grand total: four.

That’s right, four, one of whom is Nancy Pelosi. So, three, count ‘em, three other women members of Congress (total membership: 535 people), including one, count her, one, woman U.S. Senator. That would be Patty Murray.

Wait, it gets better: The total number of women invited by the White House, apart from Nancy Pelosi, 0. Yes, that’s right: 0.

The White House invitation approach; here it is, according to the AP, “The White House invited 22 high-ranking lawmakers and also asked each of the top four congressional leaders to designate four more lawmakers for invitations.”

So, here’s what I saw when I looked at the White House guest list some more: The “lawmakers invited by the White House,” are all either in Senate or House leadership, chair committees, or are a “ranking member” of a committee, with one exception.

Guess what, he’s a guy too: Senator Chris Dodd, member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and so unpopular in his home state he’s being forced to retire.

Other members of that Senate committee? Well, for starters, there’s Barbara Mikulski, the third ranking member after Sen Dodd, and then there’s Senator Patty Murray, fifth ranking member.

But neither Mikulski nor Murray was invited by the White House, even in light of the fact that the issue of women’s health, not to say, abortion rights, is front and center in the debate over healthcare reform legislation.

Murray had to wait to get invited, according to the AP, by “the House and Senate leadership,” along with one other pro-choice Democratic woman, that’s right, one other– Rep. Louis Slaughter.

According to the published reports I can find at this hour (10am CST), the final chapter in this sorry saga was written late yesterday when John Boehner requested that the White House invite Rep. Bart Stupak, he of the infamous “Stupak Amendment.

Apparently, when the White House was asked about Rep. Boehner’s request, “…the [unnamed White House] official said, “If they want Stupak to come, they can bring him.”

Back-in-the-day, some of us got “fired up and ready to go,” in our case, to fight for women’s reproductive rights, because we heard stuff like this: “The proper position of women in SNCC, (the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, a leading civil rights organization of the 1960’s civil rights movement) is prone.” Some say Stokely Carmichael spoke in jest, but what matter?

This all feels like “déjà vu all over again,”* just in a different venue.

Thanks to RH Reality Check, where this post first appeared.

photo credit: thanks to Progress Ohio via flickr

By Rebecca Sive


Lynda L.
Lynda L7 years ago

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, I was wondering myself where is NOW and others to speak for women or even one female MD or anyone not speaking 'for churches". When are we going to enforce 'Separation of Church and State". and HOW does Stupak get to change existing medical procedures and laws, and what does it have to do with health care reform? This is insulting to every woman out there and we should be screaming from the roof tops. Where have real women gone in America?

Ellinor S.
Ellinor S7 years ago

thank you

Erin R.
Erin R7 years ago

Thank you!

Elaine Dixon
Elaine Dixon7 years ago

thanks for the posting

Deborah Kampfer
Deborah Vitek7 years ago

As an ex-pat living in Canada and enjoying excellent health care, I feel so sorry for my fellow U.S. citizens. Watching the "health care reform" from up here it was obvious it was nothing but a smoke screen to placate the people who were starting to see the problems and at the same time, insure the insurance companies that their tills would keep getting filled.

I cannot even begin to explain how much more relaxed and happy people are here and I think it is partly due to the fact that they know they have health care, period. They don't have to stay in a job they hate for the health care. They can take a year of to study or go back to school and not worry about health care. It is so wonderful and so freeing to have national health care.

I guess the downside is you have more time to read and enjoy life which in turn means you are more aware of the ridiculous things the "leaders" of the country are trying to do and you can be more politically active.

I have always thought that part of the U.S. agenda was to keep people so focused on work and acquiring "things" and keeping up with their neighbours that they would not notice all their rights slowly slipping away. Let's face it, most of the U.S. is working for the insurance companies!

Heather B.
Past Member 7 years ago

Thanks for posting this, Cynthia.

Natasha S.
Natasha S7 years ago

Well, when they continue to throw women under the bus health-care-wise, then we can't be surprised. Where are the women from all walks of life picketing abortion "reform" like in Utah with the recent miscarriage legislation. When abortion rights get completely taken away, you can all be proud to know you stood around and did nothing yourselves. If that ever even remotely looks like it's going to happen in NZ (where i live now), i'll be out there protesting like there's no tomorrow. I'm an American and it saddens me the way Americans have let their rights be trampled all over lately. Ladies, get out there and fight for your rights before they're gone. Clearly, your elected representatives aren't doing their jobs.

Mervi R.
Mervi R7 years ago

Interesting, thanks for sharing!

Abo Ahmed r.
Abo r7 years ago


Dianne D.
Dianne D7 years ago

You can never please everyone when you throw a party. People are offended when you invite some, and offended when you don't invite others. It's always a no win situation.