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What do Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Bishop William E. Lori, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Senator Roy Blunt, Representative Marco Rubio, Representative Darrell Issa, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker all have in common? Other than all being men, over the last year they have all taken part in the ongoing war on women and women’s reproductive health.
While the war on women has been fought for the last year, we have seen it escalate to an almost unbelievable level in the last two months. It seems like I can’t turn on the TV, read the newspaper, or go online without seeing some new outrage being committed against women somewhere in the country. This has been an assault on many fronts, from state-level to national-level attacks and continuing attacks in the media. These attacks have galvanized women across the country to speak out in defense of their reproductive health and rights. However, the longer I watch this debate the more I wonder, where are the pro-women men in this debate?
We have heard from men like Rush Limbaugh who infamously called a Georgetown law student a “slut” and a “prostitute” for testifying that health insurance for women should include coverage of birth control. Or Bill O’Reilly, who went on his show to say, “Let me get this straight, Ms. Fluke, and I’m asking this with all due respect,” he said. “You want me to give you my hard-earned money so you can have sex?”
We have heard from men like the Most Reverend William E. Lori, the Bishop of Bridgeport and spokesman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who in his testimony before Congress on an all-male panel discussing the Obama Administrations contraception mandate, compared a Catholic Hospital being forced to cover contraception to a Kosher Deli being forced to sell ham.
We have heard from Mitt Romney who has said he would “get rid of” Planned Parenthood.
We have heard from Rick Santorum who has said states should have the power again to ban contraception and girls and women who are raped or victims of incest should not have access to the morning-after pill or an abortion.
While there have been some men who have stood up for women – such as Jon Stewart (here, here, here and here), Senator Frank Lautenberg, Reverend Al Sharpton, and others – their voices have been quiet compared to the raucous male voices speaking out against women and women’s reproductive health.
It makes me wonder: where are the pro-women men?
This fight isn’t just about women’s health. It affects all the men who care about these women – the fathers, brothers, uncles, lovers, friends and husbands. It is time for all of these men to stand up and say that women’s health is important to them and they will no longer stand idly by and watch the women they care for have their well-being be used as a political football. They need to speak out and write their representatives and tell their representatives that they are standing with the women in their lives.
Men, it is time for you to stand up and speak out with women!
This op-ed by Population Institute Director of Public Policy Jennie Wetter originally ran on March 21, 2012 on Care2.