Last week after a meme featuring a quote from Kansas republican Allan Rothlisberg began circulating on Facebook, a group of “pissed off women over 50 and pissed off friends of women over 50” began calling Rothlisberg’s office.
Here’s the meme:
A number of reputable people and groups have confirmed that the quote is accurate.
The quote itself comes from very reliable sources. On January 14, 2014, while attending a meeting of the Kansas State Legislature’s House Standing Committee on Commerce, Labor and Economic Development, Haley Pollock tweeted:
Rep. Rothlisberg claimed during committee today that women do not need gynecological care after age 50. Sigh. #Ksleg officially in session.
— Haley Pollock (@haleypollock1) January 14, 2014
Pollock is Communications Director for the Kansas House Minority Leader. She was previously assistant to Kathleen Sebelius’ press secretary. Independent Voices, one of the groups that shared the meme on facebook, states that the quote has been confirmed by several sources, all of whom who were present at the time the statement was made. Planned Parenthood of Kansas has also confirmed the accuracy of the quote.
Meet Jan Stowe, one pissed off woman over 50.
Jan Stowe worked as an OB/GYN for 14 years. Aside from that she is a noted author and outspoken women’s rights activist. Upon reading the meme, she picked up the phone to voice her opinions to Rothlisberg.
“When I asked him about that statement he flatly denied making it, then went into a rant about getting the government out of healthcare and revoking the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”
She went on to say that
“He was the rudest, most condescending man I have ever talked to, or rather been talked down to and over by. When I asked him what his alternative plan to the ACA was, he hung up on me. He seemed very agitated. His attitude was worse than any of the doctor’s I encountered in my 40 years working as an RN.”
Rothlisberg may soon regret his decision to brush off a this woman.
Instead of being intimidated by Rothlisberg, Stowe decided to reach out to other people who share her concerns about women’s health issues. She began rounding up her group of “Pissed Off Women Over 50 and Friends Of Pissed Off Women Over 50,” to help her fight back against Rothlisberg and others like him, who assume that women can be brushed off and dismissed without repercussions.
“That statement is so very wrong and so very ignorant.”
“I was OB/GYN, Nurse Manager for a group practice of six OB/ GYN doctors at the most prestigious hospital, The Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. It is the largest medical center in the world. So Rothlisberg’s comments especially hit home with me.”
Rothlisberg attempted to clarify his remarks.
“I brought up the fact that with the tremendous increase of the Affordable Care Act by forcing businesses to provide mandated coverages that their employees neither want nor need, I said, ‘No, that’s not right. Somebody shouldn’t be paying for services they neither want nor need.’ I did come out and say a man should not be required to pay extra premiums for a woman.”
Stowe finds the clarification as infuriating as the original remark.
Besides not believing that Rothlisberg didn’t make the original statement, Stowe finds his ‘clarification’ as infuriating as the original remark.
“Why should a woman pay for prostate exams, biopsies, PSA”s (prostatic surface antigen) and Viagra? Why doesn’t a well woman exam allow for pelvic ultrasounds as a cancer screening for ovarian cancer, or a CA 125- ovarian cancer blood screening test? But a man’s PSA screening to detect prostate cancer is covered.”
She says she believes that the system is already entirely “skewed totally in the man’s favor.”
Why comments like these are a big deal for women.
Stowe wants to ensure that the public understands the enormous range of health problems a woman over 50 can find herself facing.
“Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up,”
she told me during an interview on January 26, 2014.
“Vulva-cancer and over 100 other disorders of the vulvap. Cervical and uterine (endometrial) cancer, fallopian tube, ovarian and peritoneal cancers. Cystoceles, cysto-urethroceles. rectoceles, vaginal vault, prolapse, estrogen deficiency, management of menopausal sx, breast cancer detection, occult blood rectal exams…”
These were just a portion of the health problems she rattled off during our conversation.
Stowe is rightly outraged that men like Rothlisberg, who have no training in medicine and precious little understanding of women’s bodies, are making the kinds of decisions that could potentially put lives at risk. Her newly formed group is seeking to change that, through education and direct (political) confrontation. She’s encouraging women over 50 and friends of women over 50, to join her in standing up and speaking out.
“If you can help me take down just one misogynistic, chauvinistic Tea Party/ GOP member, then we will have done a service for every woman in this country,” she said.
Her group is currently hosting an event on facebook and a phone in protest to Rothlisberg’s office. She expects to see the group host other events like this in the future, as well.