On the heels of two major defeats---the Obama Administration's decision to overrule the FDA and keep emergency contraception behind pharmacy counters, and the failure of the congressional supercommittee to come up with a plan to cut the deficit---US Sen. Patty Murray, who led efforts to increase access to Plan B and chaired the supercommittee, made two statements this afternoon loudly championing women's rights and role in Congress.
The first, a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that was also signed by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), demands that Sebelius "explain the science" behind her decision to pull the plug on over-the-counter Plan B. (Currently, women 17 and older must ask a pharmacist for the single-dose pill, which prevents pregnancy within 72 hours of unprotected sex; girls younger than 17 must get a prescription for Plan B from a doctor). To date, Sebelius has not given any scientific rationale for her decision, noting only that young girls have different "cognitive and behavioral" skills than older teens.
"We ask that you share with us your specific rationale and the scientific data you relied on for the decision to overrule the FDA recommendation," the letter says. "On behalf of the millions of women we represent, we want to be assured that this and future decisions affecting women’s health will be based on medical and scientific evidence."
Also today, Murray said that the supercommittee might have actually accomplished its job of reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion if she hadn't been the only woman on the panel. The Tacoma News Tribune reports:
Women, she says, understand compromises, and Murray wants to bring more of them on board. [...]
“You want the practical answer to why we would get things done?” she asked. “Because we are multi-taskers: We have to pick up the kids and get dinner and, you know, help with the homework and get things done, and we don’t mess around. And so we come into politics the same way: We have a task, it’s hard, but we make decisions, and we get things done.”
Today's loser: The plastic bag industry.
Last night, the Mukilteo City Council banned plastic bags in Tim Eyman's hometown, a fitting prelude to today's Seattle City Council committee vote to ban single-use plastic bags and charge a five-cent "pass-through" fee on paper bags. The proposal, sponsored by city council member Mike O'Brien, has the support of grocery-store groups, unions and restaurant lobby groups as well as environmentalists.