A new study has revealed that the voices of anti-choice men dominate The New York Times’ op-eds about abortion. According to the American Prospect’s study, between February 2004 and February 2006, women wrote just 17 percent of Times op-eds mentioning abortion, and only seven of 67 writers who touched on the subject were female. Maureen Dowd was responsible for almost half of women contributors’ few mentions of abortion, but in her ten years writing for the op-ed page she has never dedicated a column to the subject of women’s reproductive rights, according to the Prospect. Pro-choice advocacy groups such as the National Organization for Women, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood Parenthood Federation of America have been totally absent from the Times’ opinion pages over the past two years.
In the period studied, only two op-ed columns written by women focused exclusively on the subject of abortion, one of which was an invective against mifepristone (RU 486) by Donna Harrison of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Male columnists included former solicitor general Charles Fried, who tried to overturn Roe under Reagan; conservative blogger Hugh Hewitt, Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review; and Notre Dame dean Mark Roche, who argued in a 2004 op-ed that “History will judge our society’s support of abortion in much the same way we view earlier generations’ support of torture and slavery.”
Numerous reports have documented the dearth of women op-ed columnists in general, including a 2005 study by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), the nation’s foremost liberal media watchdog group. FAIR found that women are only 17 percent of op-ed writers at The New York Times, 10 percent at The Washington Post, and 13 percent at Time magazine, according to Ms magazine. But the fact that women’s voices are so crowded out of the abortion debate, a women’s issue, surprises some analysts, including Julie Hollar of FAIR. “There is this across-the-board marginalization of women’s voices in the mainstream media, but [The Prospect’s findings are] particularly striking,” Hollar told Ms..