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Sandra Kay Fluke (born April 17, 1981) is an American attorney and women's rights activist.[2][3] Sandra Fluke graduated cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center and has served as president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice.[4] She spoke before Democratic members of the House of Representatives on why she believed free contraception is needed.[5] Talk show host Rush Limbaugh made inflammatory comments about Fluke's testimony (see Rush Limbaugh–Sandra Fluke controversy), consisting of speculation and slurs regarding her sex life, resulting in public outcry and the loss of several advertising sponsors from his radio program.[6]

Biography

Fluke graduated from Cornell University in 2003 and spent five years working for Sanctuary for Families, a New York-based nonprofit aiding victims of domestic violence, where she launched the agency's pilot Program Evaluation Initiative. She co-founded the New York Statewide Coalition for Fair Access to Family Court, which successfully advocated for legislation granting access to civil orders of protection for unmarried victims of domestic violence, including LGBTQ victims and teens. Fluke was also a member of the Manhattan Borough President's Taskforce on Domestic Violence and numerous other New York City and New York State coalitions that successfully advocated for policy improvements impacting victims of domestic violence.[7]

While at Georgetown University Law Center, she worked on issues that involved domestic violence and human trafficking.[8]

Congressional testimony on contraception mandates

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Searchtool.svg Testifying to House Democrats

On February 16, 2012, Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, held a hearing entitled "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?" (see United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (section Hearing on February 16, 2012) ). This hearing was seen as one concerning religious freedoms by Republican members and one concerning women's health by Democratic members.

Citing the inability to vet Fluke and develop a line of questioning, Issa denied her testimony. The hearing was widely criticized by Democrats for having no women witnesses to speak on contraception,[9] although two female experts, Dr. Laura Champion and Dr. Allison Garrett, did testify in a second panel.[10] She was later[11] invited to address House Democratic members,[12] and submitted written testimony.[13]

Before Fluke enrolled at Georgetown University's law school, she researched the college's health plans for students, and discovered that contraception was not included. As of February 2012, she has spent the past three years lobbying the school's administration to change its policy on this issue.[14] She argued in favor of requiring all private insurance plans to cover contraception coverage, even religious institutions. She argued that over the three years as a law student, birth control could cost $3,000 in some cases. She continued that the lack of free contraception would induce many low income students to go without contraceptives and that women's free health clinics cannot meet the need.

She then discussed the consequence of such policies, anecdotally citing a friend with polycystic ovary syndrome. While the condition was "covered by Georgetown insurance", getting treatment was difficult because of the policy.[13] According to Fluke, her friend was denied coverage, even with a verified condition from her doctor. She also added that this is not a rare event for women with these medical conditions under insurance plans that did not cover contraception. She then stated that she wanted equal treatment for women's health issues and did not see the issue as being against the Catholic Church.[15]

Invective from the right

On February 29, 2012, in rebuttal to Fluke's statement, conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh berated Fluke using the terms "slut" and "prostitute" for three days on his radio show. He also said that since tax payers were being asked to pay her to have sex, she should post videos of this. Widespread criticism of this came from across the political spectrum including the President and a loss of some advertising support.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23] Three days later, after several sponsors had deserted his show, Limbaugh apologized.[24] He later attacked his critics, saying "I acted too much like the leftists who despise me. I descended to their level, using names and exaggerations. It's what we've come to expect from them, but it's way beneath me."[25] His apology itself has been criticised and rejected by Fluke as well as some commentators, politicians and businesses who have continued to pull their advertisements.[26][25][27]

Other, less prominent right-wing pundits made similar attacks on Fluke: Pamela Geller called Fluke a "pig", and "an embarrasment [sic] to decent young women";[28] and Robert Stacy McCain wondered whether it would be permissible to call Fluke a "lying liberal bitch".[29]

Support for Obama

On June 14, 2012, CNN published an op-ed piece by Fluke titled "Why this election is so personal" in which she gave several reasons why she believed Barack Obama was more likely than Mitt Romney to improve the lot of the American people.[30] This endorsement of Obama was noted by a variety of US media.[31][32][33]

See also

References

  1. Johnson, Jenna (March 3, 2012). "Sandra Fluke says she expected criticism, not personal attacks, over contraception issue". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/sandra-fluke-says-she-expected-criticism-not-personal-attacks-over-contraception-issue/2012/03/03/gIQAJq1UpR_print.html. 
  2. Whitcomb, Dan (March 3, 2012). Limbaugh apologizes to student for 'insulting' comments. Reuters. Retrieved on March 6, 2012.
  3. "Limbaugh sorry for 'slut' comment" Irish Times. March 4, 2012. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  4. Sandra Fluke: The fight for Obamacare isn't over yet. Retrieved on 29 June 2012.
  5. Rovner, Julie (29 February 2012). Law Student Makes Case For Contraceptive Coverage. NPR. Retrieved on 3 March 2012.
  6. Rush Limbaugh loses another sponsor over Sandra Fluke remarks. Chicago Tribune (March 4, 2012). Retrieved on March 6, 2012.
  7. The Faces of 2012. Retrieved on 3 March 2012.
  8. Current Public Interest Law Scholars. Retrieved on 3 March 2012.
  9. Meet Sandra Fluke: The woman you didn't hear at Congress' contraceptives hearing. Retrieved on March 3, 2012.
  10. GOP:Dems 'played games' over Sandra Fluke.
  11. Sandra Fluke Opening Statement (C-SPAN)
  12. "Sandra Fluke Receives Call From Obama After Rush Limbaugh 'Slut' Comments" The Huffington Post. March 2, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Testimony - Sandra Fluke. Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Retrieved on March 6, 2012.
  14. Meet Sandra Fluke: The woman you didn’t hear at Congress’ contraceptives hearing, Washington Post, February 16, 2012
  15. Fluke, Sandra. Statement to Congress. Retrieved on March 4, 2012.
  16. Messages from the Georgetown Community on Civility and Public Discourse. Retrieved on March 3, 2012.
  17. "Nancy Pelosi Slams Rush Limbaugh 'Slut' Remarks" The Huffington Post. March 3, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  18. "Rush Limbaugh: Obama calls Sandra Fluke to express 'support'" Los Angeles Times. March 2, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  19. "Rush Limbaugh 'Slut' Attack On Sandra Fluke 'Inappropriate,' John Boehner Camp Says" The Huffington Post. March 3, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  20. Klein, Joe (March 3, 2012). "Limbaugh Lost–and other notes on the contraception controversy". Time. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  21. "Romney offers tepid response to Limbaugh's insulting remarks" Los Angeles Times. March 2, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  22. Crary, David (March 2, 2012). "Obama joins in denouncing Rush Limbaugh's slur of student; his sponsors urged to pull ads". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
  23. "Obama joins in denouncing Rush Limbaugh’s slur of student; his sponsors urged to pull ads". Associated Press. March 2, 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/obama-joins-in-denouncing-rush-limbaughs-slur-of-student-his-sponsors-urged-to-pull-ads/2012/03/02/gIQAF4HfnR_story.html. 
  24. David Jackson, "Limbaugh apologizes to Sandra Fluke", USA Today, March 3, 2012. Accessed June 30, 2012.
  25. 25.0 25.1 "Rush Limbaugh loses more advertisers over 'slut' remarks" BBC News. March 6, 2012. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  26. Sandra Fluke Says Rush Limbaugh's Apology Doesn't Change Anything - ABC News
  27. Leigh Ann Caldwell, "Paul: Limbaugh apologized for personal gain", CBS News, March 4, 2012 (quoting Ron Paul). Accessed June 30, 2012.
  28. Pamela Geller, "Fraud Fluke's Obama-endorsed vagina", Atlas Shrugs, 6 March 2012. Accessed 29 June 2012.
  29. Robert Stacy McCain, "Since We Can’t Call Sandra Fluke a ‘Slut,’ Would ‘Lying Liberal Bitch’ Be OK?", The Other McCain, March 4, 2012. Accessed 29 June 2012.
  30. Sandra Fluke, "Why this election is so personal", CNN, June 14, 2012. Accessed June 29, 2012.
  31. Laura E. Davis, "Sandra Fluke endorses Obama", Otus News (Yahoo/ABC), 14 June 2012. Accessed 29 June 2012.
  32. Andrea Mitchell Reports, MSNBC, June 15, 2012. Accessed 29 June 2012.
  33. Andrew Bair, "Pro-Abortion Activist Sandra Fluke Endorses Obama", Lifenews.com, June 14, 2012. Accessed 29 June 2012.
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