Let's rewind to last week when conservative radio host and GOP mouthpiece Rush Limbaugh used his platform to call third-year law student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute," as well as suggesting she could do the taxpayers a favor by posting videos of her having sex on line so "we can all watch." Rush, ew, seriously, that is so gross.
Ms. Fluke is co-president of Georgetown University's chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, so one could say this is her area of expertise. Ms. Fluke has lobbied for Georgetown to include the cost of contraceptives as part of the university's health insurance for students, and according to the Washington Post, she caught the "eye of staff members working for Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who asked her to testify at a hearing on Feb. 16."
However, Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) the committee chair refused to approve her as a witness. Outraged Democrats then arranged for Sandra to speak at a forum last week. It was this testimony which sparked the firestorm of outrage from Rush Limbaugh.
During her testimony, Ms. Fluke recounted how one student was forced to spend over $1000 a year on contraceptives, and how another married student had stopped taking her oral contraceptives due to high costs. At no point however, did Fluke discuss her own sexual history, contraceptive expenditures, or how she spent her free time. But that didn't stop Rush from passing moral judgments on someone he knows nothing about.
The initial backlash against Rush's terminology directed at Ms. Fluke was swift and fierce, and several of his show's advertisers have pulled their ads, but sadly the damage to Ms. Fluke had already been done. Limbaugh managed to turn a debate about who should absorb the cost of contraceptives into a statement on morality. How Rush was able to draw a line between Fluke's student advocacy to his decision she must be a slut is beyond my comprehension.
It seems Limbaugh's statements about Ms. Fluke reveals way more about his view of women than anything else. Clearly Rush sex active women are sluts. I wonder if this includes his mother and his various wives and exes in there?
I won't get into the merits of a whether a private Catholic university should be footing the bill for contraceptives under their student health plan, but I do have a serious issue with a national radio show host using his platform to label an innocent woman a "slut" and a "prostitute."
Rush did finally apologize, but only after he saw how the backlash might affect his bottom line. He even apologized again during his radio show today, but as many pundits (on both sides of the aisle) have pointed out, it's too little, too late.
This whole controversy leaves me utterly confused. Why would right-wing conservatives, who are typically pro-life/anti-abortion, be against contraceptives, even if the cost is being supplemented by the government or private organizations? Wouldn't the use of contraceptives reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, and thus reduce the number of abortions? Wouldn't this also reduce the number of children born out of wedlock, as well as single mothers and children living on welfare? Wouldn't providing low cost and effective birth control to women who otherwise can't afford directly impact many of the negative side effects which come from unwanted pregnancies? How is this a bad thing.
Reality check: people are going to have sex regardless of their access to affordable birth control.
If ever there was a group whose ideology could benefit most from the broad use of contraceptives, it's the religious right. It seems to me Rush and his ilk are more interested in passing ill-informed moral judgments than actually do something that might benefit the country as a whole.