Calling Sandra Fluke a "slut"

When Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student, spoke at a healthcare hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, she advocated for expanding access to birth control. Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/media/2012/02/29/435082/limbaugh-calls-student-denied-spot-at-contraception-hearing-a-slut/">interpreted</a> her statement like this: <br><br>
"What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex."<br><br>

And Limbaugh was not alone in his misguided, venomous critique. "It is really important for us all to understand that this was not one person who went crazy and made 'funny' outrageous statements," Fluke <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/05/news/la-pn-sandra-fluke-limbaughs-apology-doesnt-change-anything-20120305">said</a> on "The View." She continued: "This is evidently a segment of our political commentators who think that it is acceptable in today's society to say these things about women."<br><br>

Debasing Sandra Fluke was an insult to all women. Beyond that, Limbaugh's narrow view totally overlooked the many benefits of contraceptives to women's health. As Times Opinion writer Karin Klein <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/28/news/la-ol-birth-control-healthcare-20120327">reminded</a> us in March: <br><br>

"It appears to be protective against endometrial and ovarian cancer, and the longer women take it, the greater the benefit in this regard.<br><br>

"They are used to treat ovarian cysts, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, breakthrough bleeding and painful menstrual periods.<br><br>

"Why shouldn't women who suffer from these very real ailments have access to appropriate medication? Not to mention women for whom pregnancy itself is medically dangerous?"

( Lou Rocco / ABC / Associated Press )

When Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student, spoke at a healthcare hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, she advocated for expanding access to birth control. Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh interpreted her statement like this:

"What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex."

And Limbaugh was not alone in his misguided, venomous critique. "It is really important for us all to understand that this was not one person who went crazy and made 'funny' outrageous statements," Fluke said on "The View." She continued: "This is evidently a segment of our political commentators who think that it is acceptable in today's society to say these things about women."

Debasing Sandra Fluke was an insult to all women. Beyond that, Limbaugh's narrow view totally overlooked the many benefits of contraceptives to women's health. As Times Opinion writer Karin Klein reminded us in March:

"It appears to be protective against endometrial and ovarian cancer, and the longer women take it, the greater the benefit in this regard.

"They are used to treat ovarian cysts, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, breakthrough bleeding and painful menstrual periods.

"Why shouldn't women who suffer from these very real ailments have access to appropriate medication? Not to mention women for whom pregnancy itself is medically dangerous?"

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