Doug Emhoff is pushing more men to advocate for abortion rights

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ATLANTA — Second gentleman Doug Emhoff is pushing for more men to become involved in advocating for abortion rights, telling NBC News in an exclusive interview that he sees a role for men in the ongoing battle over access.

Emhoff, who partnered with a group called Men4Choice to convene a panel in Atlanta, said men must see the fight over abortion access as both a women’s issue and a family issue that affects the fundamental freedoms of all Americans. Ahead of the November election, he plans to mobilize men across the country around the issue and to stress the importance of men being allies to women regarding reproductive health care.

“This is an issue of fairness to women. Women are dying,” Emhoff said. “It’s affecting man’s ability to plan their lives. And it’s also an issue of what’s next, what other freedoms are at risk. And these freedoms are affecting all Americans, not just women.”

Emhoff, who became the first second gentleman in U.S. history after the election of his wife, Vice President Kamala Harris, said he feels a responsibility to talk about abortion. He believes millions of Americans are suffering from the consequences of Roe v. Wade being overturned by the Supreme Court in 2022.

As part of his efforts, Emhoff has been holding events in states like Florida, Arizona and North Carolina with Men4Choice. The second gentleman has also been discussing the topic with men in his personal life.

“I’m talking about this with my other dad friends,” he said. “I’m talking about it with my son. And it’s not just because I also have a daughter. I have a son and we talk about it, about how this is going to impact him and how he’s going to start a family or not.”

Emhoff’s event on Tuesday was timed to mark the fifth anniversary of the passage of Georgia’s six-week ban on most abortions. And, he had a direct message for the many male Republican lawmakers who have been instrumental in passing new state abortion restrictions: “Stop it. Listen to the people in this country. See what’s going on. Listen to doctors, listen to nurses, listen to men and women who are suffering because of those actions. Just listen and do the right thing."

Emhoff also stressed that everyone should be concerned that the Supreme Court revoking the federal right to abortions could lead to other freedoms Americans enjoy being taken away. “What are we coming after next?” he said. “So, is it contraception? Is it right to marry who you want to marry, love who you want to love? Read what you want to read?”

Harris has become the most prominent voice in the administration on abortion rights. On Tuesday, Emhoff echoed both Harris and President Joe Biden by saying he saw the changing abortion landscape as a “health care crisis” caused by former President Donald Trump.

“This is a binary election. You’ve got the former president on one side, who is celebrating the overturn of Roe v Wade, saying women must be punished,” Emhoff said. “And then on the other side, you’ve got Joe Biden and Kamala Harris who are on the right side of each and every one of these issues. And that’s why I’m going to do nothing but work as hard as I can and make sure that they get re-elected.”

According to several polls, the majority of Americans support abortion access and it is one of the issues Biden has an advantage with voters over Trump. For his part, Trump has said he wants the issue of abortion left to the states and is proud of his role in getting Roe v. Wade overturned. Many Republicans have also been vocal about their support for more abortion restrictions as several states are expected to vote on ballot measures that will determine access to the procedure.

Separately, Emhoff, the first Jewish spouse of a president or vice president, also spoke about the rise in antisemitism in the wake of the war between Israel and Hamas and amid the pro-Palestinian protests that have swept across college campuses. Emhoff said he wants to fight against all hate including Islamophobia and prejudices against members of the LGTBQ community. He also stressed that people should be allowed to peacefully protest but not attack people based on their identity.

“It is OK to exercise your right of free speech and it is OK for valid criticism of policies of Israel that you don’t agree with,” Emhoff said. “That’s OK to do that. But, when it crosses over, into what we’ve seen. You know, someone holding up a sign that says — pointing at Jewish students — 'Hamas, that’s your next victim.' That is just outrageous. It’s wrong. It’s antisemitic. And it must stop.”

He added that Biden and Harris were working around the clock to bring the conflict to an end, protect civilian lives in Gaza and get the hostages held by Hamas released.

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