No one can say this is very surprising—Rep. Tom Price, President-Elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, totally avoided giving any direct answers to questions about women’s health rights during his Jan. 18 hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Cosmopolitan reports.
Price was put on the spot when Democratic Sen. Patty Murray brought up a controversial statement he made back in 2012 about women’s access to birth control. According to The Atlantic, Price was then against the law that covers birth control without a copay. When asked specifically about low-income women’s ability to access birth control, Price replied, “Bring me one woman who has been left behind…There’s not one. The fact of the matter is this is a trampling on religious freedom and religious liberty in this country.”
But in a survey from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, half of uninsured women said they didn’t use a more effective form of birth control due to cost. The stat definitely makes Price’s previous statements look unconvincing, and Sen. Murray was determined to find out if his beliefs had changed in any meaningful way.
“Women are really deeply concerned about the impact that the election will have in them getting access to health care they need,” she said at the hearing. “Will you commit to ensuring all 18 FDA-approved methods of contraception continue to be covered so women don’t have to go back and pay extra costs for birth control?”
Having received sucha specific question, you’d think Price would be more specific with answering—but that wasn’t really the case. “What I will commit to and assure is women and all Americans need to know we believe strongly every single American should have access to the kind of coverage and care they desire and want,” he answered. “That runs across the board.”
While the intention behind that claim is nice, Teen Vogue reports that Price is also anti-abortion and has membership in a doctors’ group that “supports non-evidence based science.” He also voted against D.C.‘s Reproductive Health Non Discrimination Act, which says that women can’t be discriminated against at work because of their reproductive decisions. While Price claims he voted out of concern for “who’s paying for” the reproductive health products, the vote alone is enough to be a major concern.
In the uncertain climate developing for women’s reproductive rights, this definitely isn’t the best news, but we have fierce women like Sen. Murray—who told Price she was “very concerned that your vision for a health care system is very different than the one I think millions of Americans are counting on”—to speak up for what’s right.