RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Fluke writes: "I am talking about women who, despite paying their own premiums, cannot obtain coverage of contraception on their private insurance, even when their employer or university contributes nothing to that insurance."

Sandra Fluke is a law student who has served as president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice. (photo: CBS NEWS)
Sandra Fluke is a law student who has served as president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice. (photo: CBS NEWS)

Slurs Won't Silence Women

By Sandra Fluke, CNN

13 March 12


ast month, students from several Catholic universities gathered to send a message to the nation that contraception is basic health care. I was among them, and I was proud to share the stories of my friends at Georgetown Law who have suffered dire medical consequences because our student insurance does not cover contraception for the purpose of preventing pregnancy.

I joined these students in speaking at a media event because I believe that stories of how real women are affected are the most powerful argument for access to affordable, quality reproductive health care services.

I also joined these students because now is a critical time to raise this issue in our public consciousness.

Thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, preventive care services, including contraception, will be covered by private insurance plans without co-pays or deductibles. If appropriately implemented, this important law will finally guarantee women access to contraception, regardless of the religious affiliation of their workplace or school.

By now, many have heard the stories I wanted to share thanks to the congressional leaders and members of the media who have supported me and millions of women in speaking out.

Because we spoke so loudly, opponents of reproductive health access demonized and smeared me and others on the public airwaves. These smears are obvious attempts to distract from meaningful policy discussions and to silence women's voices regarding their own health care.

These attempts to silence women and the men who support them have clearly failed. I know this because I have received so many messages of support from across the country - women and men speaking out because they agree that contraception needs to be treated as a basic health care service.

Who are these supporters?

They are women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, who need contraception to prevent cysts from growing on their ovaries, which if unaddressed can lead to infertility and deadly ovarian cancer. They are sexual assault victims, who need contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

They are Catholic women, who see no conflict between their social justice -based faith and family planning. They are new moms, whose doctors fear that another pregnancy too soon could jeopardize the mother's health and the potential child's health too. They are mothers and grandmothers who remember all too well what it was like to be called names decades ago, when they were fighting for a job, for health care benefits, for equality.

They are husbands, partners, boyfriends and male friends who know that without access to contraception, the women they care about can face unfair obstacles to participating in public life. And yes, they are young women of all income levels, races, classes and ethnicities who need access to contraception to control their reproduction, pursue their education and career goals and prevent unintended pregnancy. And they will not be silenced.

These women know how expensive birth control pills can be, with or without insurance coverage. For a single mother with kids, a woman making minimum wage, or a student living on loans, a high monthly co-pay could be the difference between buying contraception or one week of groceries.

And imagine the financial burden of unplanned pregnancy and raising a child. For women without insurance coverage or with insurance that doesn't cover contraception, the costs create a significant financial burden.

Many women cannot medically use the least expensive types of contraception. As a result, many women, especially those 18 to 34 who have the most trouble affording contraception, simply go without. They face any number of medical risks as well as unintended pregnancy - all of which damage their productivity and the health of their families.

Most recently, certain political commentators have started spreading misinformation about the underlying government regulation we are discussing. To be clear, through programs such as Medicaid, the government already does and should fund contraception coverage for the poorest women in our country.

But, despite the misinformation being spread, the regulation under discussion has absolutely nothing to do with government funding: It is all about the insurance policies provided by private employers and universities that are financed by individual workers, students and their families - not taxpayers.

I am talking about women who, despite paying their own premiums, cannot obtain coverage of contraception on their private insurance, even when their employer or university contributes nothing to that insurance.

Restricting access to such a basic health care service, which 99% of sexually experienced American women have used and 62% of American women are using right now, is out of touch with public sentiment. In fact, more than 60% of Americans support this regulation and affordable access to contraception, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Attacking me and women who use contraception by calling us prostitutes and worse cannot silence us.

I am proud to stand with the millions of women and men who recognize that our government should legislate according to the reality of our lives - not for ideology.

Sandra Fluke is a third-year law student at Georgetown University Law Center, and has served as president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+138 # RMDC 2012-03-13 17:42
Thanks Sandra. I'm behind you all the way. The right wing attack on women takes them to a really new low. Don't they have wives or daughters? but they are first class hypocrites. Most catholics use birth control and don't think twice about it. It is only the church's hierarchy and pope who are living in the middle ages with regard to sex and reproduction.

Most males support the position Sandra articulates so well.
+130 # RMDC 2012-03-13 17:43
Oh, I forgot one thing -- congratulations . you may just be the person to take Rush Limbaugh down. Technically he's taking himself down, but who cares. You did it. You will be the dragon slayer forever.
+89 # colvictoria 2012-03-13 19:39
Thank you so much Ms. Fluke for speaking out and making the case for insurance companies needing to cover women's contraception.
We are living through some very difficult economic times where people have to make serious decisions about their future. Many young people are postponing buying a new car, purchasing a home, marriage and having kids because frankly the money is not there to pay for these life milestones.
We are all counting pennies in this economy and if we can save on contraception why not? It is the responsible thing to do.
Thanks again for your courage to be the voice of so many.
+84 # cadan 2012-03-13 22:43
Sandra, thanks for being so courageous.

It is very hard to imagine why anybody on earth would be opposed to birth control---why it should be a political issue at all.

In fact, i think it would be a no-brainer for society to provide free birth control of any form to any woman or man or couple who want it.

What could be more important than family planning for the members of a society? And especially for the children, so that every child is born into a loving family that feels fully prepared to take care of him or her?
+65 # Daisy 2012-03-13 22:48
I, too, am unclear why there is such a controversy over something that is no one's business other than to a woman and her doctor. It's a shame that the Jabberbox, aka, Rush is so incensed by this. Is he the stalking horse or is he the lead horse in posing these issues? Or does he just think he's cute and needs to bump up ratings on his sad little show? I used to work with a guy who always prefaced his political views with "Rush says...". Luckily, he didn't breed. Why people pay any attention whatsoever to him is beyond many of us. He carries on like a two year old with temper fits. And people watchlisten to him. Worse even, sponsors pay for his rantings.
+54 # Majikman 2012-03-13 22:49
Life for the downwardly mobile sucks about now...but not so much that the Repugs and the religious fundies can't make it worse.
+58 # Erdajean 2012-03-13 22:52
That trash talk about women from that old pig-faced overstuffed baloney sausage would make the Taliban ashamed.

Why in Heaven's name are we over there shooting up people in Afghanistan, to "lead them to democracy" while this blowhard spews his insulting filth here at home? And PLENTY of his worm-brain disciples agree with him! This is the state of ignorance we've sunk to, in our aversion to serious education.

Sad to say, it had to be a woman who could take Rush Limbaugh down. And, it will be wise, strong women who straighten out the mess of this country, if it is to happen. And I do NOT mean Hillary, Sarah and Michele. Maybe Ms. Fluke will one day run for office.
+26 # wwway 2012-03-13 23:01
Thank you, Sandra Fluke, for your citizenship. That it turned into a national conversation and exposed the right was a bonus.
Readers, in my conversations with religius right women I have to share that it's important to know what's being said by the women on the right. They believe any defense of women's rights is contrary to family values. Limbaugh's attack on Sandra Fluke is appropriate to their family values argument. Conservative sisters of my grandmother's generation, my mother's generation, and my own generation used similar arguments against their sisters. The rights these women have are because of their brave liberal sisters who endured public slander and visious physical attacks. They will never appreciate it, even in this curent generation. They will always vote agaisnt their best interests for the pleasure of calling their liberal sisters the "s" word.
+29 # CarolynScarr 2012-03-13 23:12
Another thing is the ongoing attack on Planned Parenthood.
I have always had what I have thought was a pretty good health care plan with Kaiser.
However when it came to getting birth control pills, I went to Planned Parenthood because irregular periods and long waiting times for appointments impeded getting good service.

Similarly when it came time to get fertility services, Planned Parenthood was much better, more complete and more careful.

Many people don't know that Planned Parenthood has a good fertility program for those who are trying to get pregnant.
+40 # liz4peace 2012-03-13 23:20
Thank you for speaking up, Sandra! I live in Darrell Issa's district, and I want you to know that this evening we held a protest outside a fundraiser he attended in Vista. While Limbaugh is truly repugnant, at least we don't pay his salary. The decision of Issa, chairman of the powerful Oversight committee, not to include women on a panel on this issue deserves impeachment. I only hope the people in CA-49 wake up and vote him out in November!
+14 # Bill Clements 2012-03-14 10:54
This is what it will take to get rid of these reprobates.
+20 # Regina 2012-03-14 11:19
Congratulations on standing up to this disgusting misogynist, right in his own district, which I hope gets gerrymandered into a saner configuration. His "hearing" with an array of extremely orthodox religionist men was a travesty of our constitution -- we cannot have freedom OF religion until we have freedom FROM religion as well.
+26 # Bill Clements 2012-03-13 23:20
You make us all incredibly proud. You're a mensch.
+25 # James38 2012-03-14 00:43
You are great, Ms Fluke. Very eloquent and important. I am behind you all the way.
+22 # unitedwestand 2012-03-14 01:44
I'm very impressed with this young women. Courage and intelligence, gorgeous.
Thank you Ms. Fluke, sometimes the good guy wins in many ways.
Limbaugh is a national embarrassment.
-58 # Robt Eagle 2012-03-14 06:14
+45 # God Dont Like Ugly 2012-03-14 09:20
Quoting Robt Eagle:

Mr. Eagle, I respectfully suggest you read the article, and employ a bit of common sense, before commenting.

"Abstinence" does not prevent ovarian cancer, or alleviate other serious, non-sexual-inte rcourse-related , female reproductive diseases. Some types of contraception do.
+18 # David Starr 2012-03-14 11:55
Abstinence? That figures: An old age solution from an old age kind of mind. An obvious reality: People are going to have sex! And sometimes not for procreation! And part of the reality, like it or not, is that includes some teenagers. With that, it is a matter of being educated to having mutual, responsible sex. Or at the least, to be educated about it. AND with the personal choice of having it with or without marriage; the difference is a document and a ritual or none of that. Either way, a couple can fall in love, and in lust. Those promoting abstinence remind me of an old hypocrisy where a king, a noble, a politician or a preacher preach it but wind up not practicing it, and then the very unintended consequences occuring that these powerful figures warn the public about in not practicing it. HOWEVER, one has the personal choice of being celibate, whether temporarily or indefinately.
+49 # AdriannaVL 2012-03-14 07:14
Hello from Stockholm! I follow US politics, and I must say it is rather scary. Discussing reproduction control or women's right to work (was it Santorum?) is like discussing whether women are human. How can this be in one of the most advanced countries on Earth (technologicall y?) You guys gave us Apple, among other things, and you cant get your act together and give women the right to decide when to get pregnant???
+17 # Majikman 2012-03-14 12:01
Hello back and very well said. Could you please give us some more of your wonderful Steig Larson types?
P.S. Please drop the case against Julian Assange.
+28 # Barbara K 2012-03-14 07:51
Good job, Sandra, keep up the good work, I think you have a great future. You are a brave young lady, and could teach a lot to the rest of us.
+14 # BradFromSalem 2012-03-14 08:35
Maybe I have not been watching Rachel lately, but why hasn't anyone spelled out why this is not a First Amendment issue. Most people believe that the First Amendment actually says "Seperation of Church and State"; which of course it doesn't. And if it did, since most Non-Christian religions attend a Temple not a Church, would the Constitution allow the imposition of Shiria Law?
The First Amendment clearly states that the government should not pass any law that establishes an official religion or prohibits the free exercise of any religion.

Only if you extend the concept of money equals speech to the ability to worship (or not) can you come close to claiming the position that this is a First Amendment issue. If, in fact it is a violation of the First Amendment, then would not every Atheist have just claim to force tax free religious entities to pay taxes?
Of course the real issue is the fact that we have to have a job to have insurance, we have to have a "benevolent" employer to have good insurance. And we still must pay a share of the Premium and not be allowed to have a say in our coverage? I'll pay 33% - 50% of the bill, but you order whatever you want, even if it's something I am allergic to.

The rest about whether or not a woman wants to use birth control, have an abortion, have lots and lots of sex, or no sex is totally irrelevant to this argument. It is about ceding control of our lives to the corporate bottom line.
+17 # PGreen 2012-03-14 09:52
Quoting LiberalLibertarian:

Of course the real issue is the fact that we have to have a job to have insurance, we have to have a "benevolent" employer to have good insurance. And we still must pay a share of the Premium and not be allowed to have a say in our coverage? I'll pay 33% - 50% of the bill, but you order whatever you want, even if it's something I am allergic to.

What you say is a good argument for a national, single-payer system not dependent on employment or private insurance. Medicare is a relatively good model to build on, as it is far more efficient that the private plans. However, any kind of shared economy will always involve paying, to some extent, for our neighbors services, even when we don't use them-- just as they pay for ours. The trick is keeping expenditures balanced and fair-- thus financing under a progressive tax system is likely a good idea. Now, if we could only return to the pre-Reagan levels…
In part this issue is opposed by the reactionary right because they don't want to see any form of public services whatsoever. The rest of the opposition probably stems from good ol patriarchal dominance in the social arena.
+10 # BradFromSalem 2012-03-14 11:04
No disagreement about Single payer.

In the section you quoted I was trying to point out the difference between the existing Health Insurance model in contrast to the imaginary one under attack by the Republicans. In the real world, around 99% of the the insured individuals must pay a portion of the Premium by various ways such as a percent of the full Premium, co-pays, and deductibles. The insureds as individuals have no say over what the plan covers, this strikes me as harsh infringement upon my rights.

As you point out, moving the entire payment process to a Medicare like Single Payer resolves the issue of an employer dictating your personal life by controlling items that are not their business.

To their credit, I believe the Cathlolic Church supports Single Payer. Wouldn't it be great if they used this issue to push that agenda, instead of trying to manipulate people's lives as if it was still the Middle Ages.
+30 # Wind in His Hair 2012-03-14 08:35
In the 1990's I turned Rush on and after listening to him spew his hate, I turned him off forever. I could never understand the thinking of his followers, but I do understand how his hate hurt our country. You can't be bombarded by such negative things day after day without it affecting you. The country would be better off without his ilk. Also I could never understand why some woman would give up a right, even if they wouldn't use it.
+32 # riverhouse 2012-03-14 08:48
The right wing media has deliberately misled the public about the nature of this issue, bolding lying about how the government (meaning Obama) is denying religious freedom to Catholics and forcing the Catholic Church to go against the tenants of their faith. It's total nonsense but in the media the issue gets framed as an assault on religious liberty and the imposition of an alien agenda on the American people. Lying to the public has become the standard operating procedure of the right wing freaks. We need to challenge them at every instance.
+1 # unclejeems 2012-03-14 23:35
I agree and support your statement. But it's "tenets".

+3 # Daisy 2012-03-15 14:46
The Catholic positions are determined by the council of Bishops, Cardinals and the Pope who are all male (mostly white). They are theoriticians. Nuns, all women, are the "boots on the ground" and have a much more sane approach to Catholic teachings. Though I'm not Catholic, my experience with people in the Church has been mostly directly involved with a Catholic Hospital, where my mother was involved in cancer treatment. In short, the problem is the priests and upward. Nuns generally have a more nuanced perspective. What we have here is the American Bishops ranting to a Protestanbt President, because they feel that he is more easily manipulated. I'm old enought to remember the Catholic heirarchy support for Nixon vs Kennedy because Kennedy refused to not abide by the strict Catholic principles, whereas Nixon could readily react to arm twisting.
+16 # chrisconnolly 2012-03-14 12:31
How do these religious freedom proponents rectify this claim of loosing religious freedom because they can't dictate someone elses health care decisions. It seems the religious right wants to take other peoples freedoms away in order for their own religion to feel free. It seems the only freedom the religious right really believes in is their own freedom to take others freedoms away. Are we headed back down the path to the days of the Inquisition's villainous dictatorial cruelty that was totally bereft of anything Jesus tried to teach?
+5 # Uppity Woman 2012-03-14 15:11
Thanks Chris, this is what I have been arguing all week.
+6 # Uppity Woman 2012-03-14 15:13
Thanks so much Sandra! I think you might enjoy knowing that my 79 year old mom (who lives in rural Alabama and is very outspoken about her views) is very, very proud of you!
+6 # bugbuster 2012-03-14 15:14
The oppressed, or in this case those who fancy themselves to be the oppressed, have become the oppressors. Watch out when someone plays the victim. That one has no compassion and does not give a damn about anyone else's rights.
+10 # bugbuster 2012-03-14 14:41
Sandra, your argument won on its merits the first moment it left your mouth. It requires no more defense. All of those with ears have heard.

Unfortunately for you, the situation moved you into the crosshairs of liars and panderers who profit from slander and smooth talk. You have handled this depraved assault with strength, grace, and dignity. You have won the day.

Your reasoning flushed out the pious fakers and made them show their true colors.
-12 # jazzman633 2012-03-14 19:33
Women should have access to birth control. For any religion to prohibit it is an unwarranted intrusion into an individual's private life. But why does the govt. have to pay for it? We're not talking about a liver transplant here...
+8 # Cassandra2012 2012-03-14 23:47
Quoting jazzman633:
Women should have access to birth control. For any religion to prohibit it is an unwarranted intrusion into an individual's private life. But why does the govt. have to pay for it? We're not talking about a liver transplant here...

Why does the govt have to pay for viagra? or prostate care (which is basically useless) etc.
+6 # BradFromSalem 2012-03-15 06:51
Government does not pay for anything. Every penny any government spends is either from a tax of some sort or a return on a tax investment.

In either case, the government (in theory) is allocating its resources to the benefit of EVERYONE without regard to any religious beliefs, and other factors. It is a benefit to me, regardless of my religious beliefs, that I also protect others beliefs. In order for that to occur, I may contribute through my taxes to many things I disagree with.
+2 # OligarchyNot 2012-03-15 21:12
Quoting jazzman633:
Women should have access to birth control. For any religion to prohibit it is an unwarranted intrusion into an individual's private life. But why does the govt. have to pay for it? We're not talking about a liver transplant here...

The government does NOT have to pay for it -- that is a republican lie. Whoever pays the insurance premium pays for it. Since no public option was passed with Obama's healthcare plan, this means that even poor women will be paying for their own birth control when they're forced to purchase insurance

It's dishearening when even progressives believe the lies spewed by the republicans. Just remember, 99.9% of everything repubs say afre lies.
+3 # barbaratodish 2012-03-15 00:36
Women could use the following statement in additon to using other pharmacuetical, etc. methods for birth control: "You want me to worship your dick as if it was a cult. You could try drawing eyes on your dick and put a mirror in front of it, so you can join your own cult!" lol
+5 # Grumbler 2012-03-15 01:56
Congratulations Sandra!
Anyone with half a brain may be upset with you, but those of us with an entire functioning brain are mighty proud. If this wizened, dried up, ancient Mississippi coot was 40 years younger, he'd hightail it to Georgetown and do his damnedest to sweep you off your feet. YOU are the future. Every great person encounters naysayers and idiots with nefarious motives. It is a rare gift to have the insight to see what is wrong, a gift you share with Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Mohandas Gandhi, and, yes, with Jesus the Christ.
The worst poor old Rush Limbaugh can do to you is the equivalent of shooting spitballs at an ocean liner. Sail on magnificent being! Fair winds and following seas!
+5 # b_niles57 2012-03-15 10:51
This thread seems to have reached an end, but thought I might just add:

1) The transcript of Rush's statements seem to have been pulled from his website

2) Tried engaging in debate with Conservatives on Hannity's forum only to find that there is a rule there that no one is allowed to personally attack friends of Hannity on that site (aka Rush). In other words, Hannity defends Rush's statements, but forbids you from using the type of language Rush used to attack Fluke to describe Rush himself. Nice. Welcome to the Republican echo chamber!
+1 # Peace Anonymous 2012-03-16 11:54
Robert Eagle you crack me up. Now I understand. You were born 100 years late. LOL! I think God is much more concerned about the violence we inflict on each other in the process of trying to control each other than He is about any of enjoying our sexuality. And I often wonder why so many men have so many opinions regarding what a woman "should" do with her body. Deep down I think, like Elmer Fudd, they are very, very afraid. Thank You for your courage Sandra. I believe there are a lot of men like myself who support you totally.
+1 # Susan1989 2012-03-16 13:32
You are right on! Men who want to control a woman's sexuality are often deeply afraid--and have their own issues to deal with. Deeply embedded in our culture is the belief that sex is unseemly--parti cularly among fundamentalists .
+1 # Susan1989 2012-03-16 13:30
The need to control women's lives comes from fear of their unlimited sexuality. This is why so many of us were burned at the stake during the Inquisition. Christian religious beliefs centered around sex asd unclean--someth ing to be done quickly to procreate. If you read about the history of the world, this all began during the Inquisition which was a brutal attempt to control the lives of all people whose lifestyle was viewed as a threat. It was true insanity and a Holocaust against humanity--with five million women burned at the stake.
+1 # djones1850 2012-03-16 14:32
At a talk in Richmond this morning, Bishop John Shelby Spong said "All men fear women. It isn't only in Virginia." He got an enthusiastic round of applause.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.