'Partners' star Sophia Bush talks women's rights and healthcare: 'For me, these are non-negotiable issues'

sophia-bush-autumn-party.jpgWhen Zap2it arrived on the "Partners" set to sit down with Sophia Bush, we found her spread out in the "office" set usually used as Michael Urie and David Krumholtz' fictional architectural firm. On this particular day, though, Sophia had commandeered the room as her own office space -- and when we found her, she wasn't looking over her script or emailing her agent like one might expect. Instead, highlighter in hand, she was carefully poring over a stack of research detailing both Governor Mitt Romney's and President Barack Obama's records as pertaining to civil rights issues.

If you follow Sophia on Twitter, you've noticed that she doesn't shy away from fierce activism and passionate political statements. While her (very) vocal support of one candidate over another might make a publicist wince, Sophia's not one to hold back her opinion -- be it gratitude and generosity or sheer disgust and outrage. She's a vocal supporter of marriage equality, environmental preservation, and global education initiatives.

Recently, she was called out by conservative blogger Michelle Malkin for using the word "vagina" in a tweet about her focus on women's rights, from healthcare to the workplace. Their exchange grew heated as Malkin blogged about Sophia's refusal to "shut up" and accused her of being "girly bits obsessed." (Needless to say, Sophia's recap of the evening's back-and-forth was a little different.)

While the dust was still settling, we asked Sophia what she feels is the most important issue on which she'd like to see her fans educate themselves before November 6.

"For me, it all boils down to women," she says without hesitation. "There's strong, factual history to prove that Obama supports women with the Lilly Ledbetter Act, with the other one that he's trying to pass right now to close up the loopholes that lawyers are finding in Lilly Ledbetter, the Paycheck Fairness Act. Romney and Ryan don't support those. Mitt Romney won't give an answer, and Ryan has publicly stated that he will vote against them. I don't understand why he thinks that's okay, but he does."

sophia-bush-obama.jpgAt this point, Sophia pulls a print-out from her stack and points out some highlighted stats. "They've started this rumor that women in the Obama administration make 18% less than their male counterparts, but I spoke to women in the Obama administration yesterday, and they've documented that that's also factually incorrect. Equal pay for equal work exists in Obama's office. The percentage of females working ... decreased to 31% in Massachusetts in Romney's office [from 46% when he took office]. That stuff is factual. All these people are trying to say he hired all these women, but it's a lie!"

Whatever your politics, it's impossible to deny that Sophia -- whose binder-full-of-women Halloween costume said it all -- has done her research, particularly as she's balancing a giant pile of political documentation between takes on set.

"The issue for me doesn't come down to what you feel about religion, it doesn't come down to how you feel about abortion," she says. "It comes down to how you feel about what you deserve as a woman in this country. Do you deserve to be treated with equality? Do you deserve the same fair shake that your brother or your father or your husband or your boyfriend is getting? I believe that we do."

Pointing out evidence of Planned Parenthood's breast and cervical cancer screening programs for low-income and uninsured women, Sophia directs the conversation toward women's health. "Even if you're talking about healthcare, which is one of the other things most important to me, in the plan that Romney is proposing, having survived breast cancer is a preexisting condition for which you can be denied healthcare. That doesn't exist under Obamacare. That doesn't exist. If you've had breast cancer and survived, all that happens under Obamacare is your care continues. For me, these are non-negotiable issues. I don't believe in jeopardizing women's health and I don't believe in telling women that their work is less valuable than men's."

All that, and she didn't even mention her "girly bits," as Malkin would say, once. Hmm.
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images/WhoSay