WASHINGTON—To better educate lawmakers on complex reproductive issues while also providing a safe, nonthreatening environment where they can speak up and ask questions without feeling self-conscious, the U.S. Senate’s 100 members were separated into male and female groups Thursday afternoon prior to arguments on S.1696, the Women’s Health Protection Act. “There’s always some giggling when the Senate debates a woman’s right to privacy and choice in reproductive matters, which is okay, but we find that everyone’s more at ease when they can talk about it with members of their own sex,” Senate Sergeant at Arms Andrew B. Willison said as the female senators were led single-file down the hall into the Senate Appropriations Committee Room where they will learn about the proposed legislation from longtime congressional leader Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). “This way both the male and female senators can open up and ask anything they want about the bill’s provisions without fear of embarrassment or teasing. For many elected officials, this is their first real introduction to a woman’s reproductive rights, so we want to make the process as comfortable for them as possible.” Sources confirmed that Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) was given a religious exemption from the discussion after providing a note from his constituents.
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