msnbc | March 02, 2012
>>> ad accusing republicans with a war on women . take a look.
>> it's an assault on women 's health and freedom. it's time to end the culture wars and get to work for the middle class .
>> that ad comes on the heels of the defeat of the blunt amendment, which would have overridden the president's mandate for insurance coverage for birth control . joining me is melissa harris perry. she's a professor of political science at tulane university and the columnist for "the nation." let's talk about this. the one woman who has been a central figure is sandra fluke. she's a georgetown law student. she testified before the house members about the medical issues of birth control . rush limbaugh really took her to task. not just her, but took her virtue to task. here's what he had to say, or what she had to say about rush limbaugh 's statements.
>> i think it's a very important thing for us to think about that in our society in certain sectors, this is evidently still acceptable. that's just very problematic.
>> here's a person that comes out to testify. now her virtue is being questioned. a real target has been painted on her back basically for coming out and speaking up about what this means for her. the medical issues of birth control . is this really taking the focus off what the issues are really about and getting everybody hung up on sex talk?
>> i think there's always a little bit of both of those things going on when you talk about the war on women . we have to be careful about that phrase. what we see here is both the name calling and degrading of the idea of women 's voices in the public. you don't even have a right to speak on this topic. and if you do, i will degrade who you are as a person. then there's the policy issues around women 's actual health issues. and of course, birth control is in part about reproduction but also about other health issues.
>> is there a branding issue when it comes to that? as a guy, men think of birth control being just that. they don't understand women 's health ramifications that are discussed between a woman and her doctor.
>> i think that's part of it. but we like the extent to which they think of this. we need voices saying the birth control issue is a family planning issue. all families and couples have a right to talk about it. but women 's health is still a little mysterious to many men. the reasons you would be using hormonal birth control .
>> so this morning, again, from "the today show," matt lauer talking to her. this was her answer.
>> there are still bills being discussed in the house and senate as well as in the legislatures of many states to restrict women 's access to this important health care need. so unfortunately, it doesn't seem like this is an argument that is over.
>> just to update everybody, john boehner released a statement saying the words were inappropriate. so is this fight far from over as these discussions -- the blunt amendment is not moving forward from yesterday. but where does the discussion go from here? does it kind of rip the curtain back about --
>> didn't you think this conversation was over in 1972 ? for me i think it was odd we were having it at all in 2012 . i look at miss fluke. here's a young woman testifying before congress, the strength of her voice, to be a law student and a woman, to see the idea that not only she would be attacked, but the whole class of women whose ability to become professionals and to make their own choices about family is being attacked through policy. i hope the conversation begins to wind down. it's one thing to have a conversation about termination of pregnancies. it's another thing to open up birth control and family planning .
>> from a political standpoint, what is the role of the woman moving forward to put her foot down as we label this war on women , maybe we do so improperly, but what can women do to ban together? maybe you need to say you need to back off and we'll come to you about what's best in making these medical decision in what are so personal.
>> i think watching olympia snow exiting is also part of the story. in 2010 it was the first time we saw a decrease of the number of women being elected to congress. whether they are republicans or democrats, the idea that so few women voices are a part of this conversation. it's difficult to even figure out where women are because we are not a single voice. we ought to be equally represented in the conversations.
>> men will continue to suffer from the disease of insert foot in mouth . melissa harris perry, we'll see you tomorrow morning . thank you. you can watch her saturday and sunday mornings at 10:00 a.m . eastern