A quick primer, Sandra Fluke sat before an "unofficial" congressional committee on 16-Feb-2012. She testified that she should have access to birth control and Georgetown University should "be forced by federal law to pay for her contraception of choice without regard to Georgetown's religious beliefsÂ—and that somehow, Georgetown's current policy is a medieval infringement on her rights as a human being," as summed up in an article by the Daily Caller.
Last Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh, popular conservative talk show host, had some choice words for Sandra, which made the already hot story even hotter and more polarizing. Rush gave a rare apology, but the damage was done. He lost several sponsors. The sponsors that have hung in there have been listed in news stories and are most likely being bombarded with outraged activists.
Rush's comments were way over the top, and any valid points he may have had were lost in his ridiculous statement. He should have apologized, and he did. But why does anyone care what Rush says? It is overshadowing the debate.
Questions for Sandra Fluke
A recent article asks some interesting and hard questions for Sandra (in part):
- How and when did she conduct her survey of Georgetown Law students' alleged struggles with contraceptive costs? How many students participated in this survey? Was the survey conducted with a statistically valid sample? Can she describe her survey's methodology and provide us with the original questionnaires?
- How did she arrive at her $3,000 estimate of the cost of contraception? What types of contraceptivesÂ—condoms, diaphragms, pills, spermicidal foamÂ—were included in these calculations?
- Was she aware that a monthly supply of birth-control pills could be obtained for as little as $9 a month?
Who Is Sandra Fluke?
Sandra, 30-year-old activist, apparently went to Georgetown specifically to challenge their contraception policy. She "came to Georgetown University interested in contraceptive coverage: She researched the Jesuit college's health plans for students before enrolling, and found that birth control was not included," according to the Washington Post.
It does not change the debate, but it does change the image of Sandra as a starving student co-ed who came wide-eyed into Georgetown with the impression that she would not have to pay for her birth control pills. She knew exactly what she was doing. And it worked.
In her testimony, Sandra gave an example of a woman who was denied coverage of the pill even though she had a medical condition that required her to use the pill.
However, "the Student Health Center and the Office of Student Insurance have consistently worked together to minimize administrative issues for students seeking insurance coverage for oral contraceptives prescribed for medical conditions," University spokeswoman Stacy Kerr said. "Students routinely are provided coverage when a medical condition is present that necessitates the use of such contraceptives." So, perhaps Sandra's example needs to have a bit of scrutiny. But she is really just a voice for those who think contraception is an entitlement.
Contraception Controversy at Georgetown Before Sandra
Groups have been pushing Georgetown for years to provide contraception to their students. Before Sandra, there was H*yas for choice. According to a piece in the Washington Post in 2010, the group,
"distributes free condoms on campus twice a week, and last semester handed out more than 4,500." The story continues: "The Saturday afternoon protest near the university's iconic front gates attracted about three dozen students, who chanted things such as, 'We want condoms' and 'Georgetown. Change. It's not too late.'...Someone else walking through campus yelled, 'Just go to CVS!'"
An article in thenation.com gives an impression of what the students believed (way back in 2010) regarding free contraception. It reports (speaking of "H*yas for choice"),
"Despite the group's optimism, many students see its goals as a waste of time, or even inappropriate, because Georgetown's policy does not allow university funds to contradict Catholic teachings. Just like the two required Christian theology classes that every student must take, some students feel it is a contradiction to demand contraception from a Catholic university that students knowingly choose to attend. Even the editors of the student newspaper The Hoya bashed the protestors, calling their demands "unrealistic and misguided" because "the university should not be expected to stray from Catholic doctrine to accommodate demands for the availability of on-campus contraceptives."
If one did a survey of the students today, would they be for or against changing the traditional stance the university has taken?
The Current State of Affairs
Sandra is an activist and so is Rush, they are both controversial and the ongoing debate about whether or not Rush was within his professional boundaries has been discussed ad nauseum, forcing this issue to be at the forefront when the discussion should be about more pressing matters.
Rush has his agenda, Sandra has hers, and the question SHOULD be about whether contraception should be covered even if it goes against an institution's religious beliefs.
Actually, this whole contraception issue seems to be timed in a way to take the attention away from the very real and urgent problems that the country and the world is facing right now. How convenient that the headlines are no longer scrutinizing the president's policies and accomplishments while he has been in office and instead, the mainstream media is focused on Obama's support of this activist.
The mainstream media is so focused on the fact that Rush Limbaugh called Sandra a slut, that they are not reporting on urgent issues, like the threat of a conflict between Israel and Iran, the very shaky developments in the middle-east post Arab-spring, the urgent and terrifying state of the economy in Europe and how it will impact the United States and the world, the persecution of Christians and journalists around the world, the rising costs of food, corruption in the government, academia and on Wall Street, the high unemployment, the budget that the president is proposing for 2013, etc.