Inadvertently, Sandra Fluke helped to clarify a defining issue in the 2012 presidential election. The debate didn’t begin with her or with Rush Limbaugh. It started with President Obama when he decided that the United States government should require every organization in America to offer birth control as part of their healthcare plans. Fluke changed the debate. It’s now about morals, and more precisely, it’s about whether people who want to live licentious lifestyles have the right to do so at public expense.
Fluke has become the poster child for the no morals movement. I suspect that she had no idea that she would generate such a firestorm when she let it be known that she was spending $1000 a year on contraceptives and that she couldn’t afford to pay that much. In her blog, Laura Freed points out that “Sandra must be having sex 5 times a day”:
Sandra Fluke is a law “stud”ent at Georgetown U who claims that she can’t afford birth control and feels that America owes her free birth control pills so she can have sex. She testified in front of Congress that she had to spend 3,000 dollars in 3 years in order to buy birth control and that she just can’t afford it (sob). Estimates using the price of the pill (from 5-50.00 depending on where you buy it- and if you’re REALLY broke, you can get it for free at Planned Parenthood) and condoms – shows that, by spending 1,000 a year on Birth Control, Sandra must be having sex 5 times a day (you GO girl!). Rush Limbaugh picked up on the story and said that if our Govt PAYS people to have sex, then, by all accounts, Sandra would be a prostitute, (someone paid to have sex). In an economy where gas is almost 4 bucks, almost HALF of Americans are on Food Stamps, business are shutting down left and right – the Left want you switch the focus to law students having sex and boohoo…they can’t afford birth control?? What the fuck is happening to this country???? Hello, people, I think no matter what your political beliefs, our tax $$ could be spent on people who truly deserves it…like soldiers, firemen, police, children…WAKE UP AMERICA!!! JUST SAY NO TO BIG BROTHER GOVERNMENT!!!!
Business Insider ran a story on Fluke that included a brief biographical sketch:
…Fluke as a feminist activist. According to a bio on Georgetown’s website, Fluke’s professional background is in domestic violence and human trafficking advocacy. At Georgetown law, she is the former president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, an editor for the Journal of Gender and the Law, and vice president of the Women’s Legal Alliance. She has a bachelor’s degree in Feminist, Gender & Sexuality studies from Cornell.
Like it or not, the issue is here, and the femme fatale has defined the issue for President Obama and the Democratic Party. By taking sides with her, they have made her issue theirs, and they are vulnerable because Fluke’s views represent a radical departure from the mainstream in America.
President Obama telephoned Fluke personally to empathize with her because, as President Clinton would have said, he feels her pain. Concerning that fateful call, Fluke said,
“He was so kind,” she said in an interview. “I was just very impressed by that.”
“When I said how important this policy was, he sort of wanted to move past that,” Fluke said. “He wanted to talk about whether or not I was OK.”
“What has been made clear,” Fluke said, “is that women will not be silenced on this issue, and neither will the men who support them.”
Gawker ran a story that included this statement from Ms. Fluke:
“I thank the thousands of women and men, including members of Congress, Georgetown University students and faculty, and total strangers of all political stripes across the country who have offered kind words and support following recent egregious personal attacks. We are fortunate to live in a democracy where everyone is entitled to their own opinions regarding legitimate policy differences. Unfortunately, numerous commentators have gone far beyond the acceptable bounds of civil discourse. No woman deserves to be disrespected in this manner. This language is an attack on all women, and has been used throughout history to silence our voices. The millions of American women who have and will continue to speak out in support of women’s health care and access to contraception prove that we will not be silenced.”
I agree with Fluke about one thing: we still live in a country where people are free to voice their opinions. That’s what she did; that’s what Rush Limbaugh did; and that’s what I’m doing. I disagree with her assessment that “[n]o woman deserves to be disrespected in this manner.” Fluke threw the first lick when she willingly placed herself on the point for an issue that is dividing this nation, and she invited the attacks against her. I hope she learned in law school at Georgetown that she can’t start a fight and then claim innocence. Fluke is no victim. She’s a provocateur, and she deserves what she gets.
Clearly, this is a moral issue about lifestyle choices and, more importantly, who pays for those choices. Even though the president tried to sidestep the policy question in his call to Fluke, he can’t because it’s his policy. By simply making the call, Obama elevated the issue to the presidential level, and he leaned in Fluke’s direction. The president and the Democratic Party are on her side. That’s painfully obvious.
Republicans can’t afford to allow Democrats and radio talk show hosts to define this issue for them. It’s a moral question about whether Americans should be required to pay for the lascivious lifestyles of Sandra Fluke and others of her ilk who think that they have a Constitutional right to engage in sexual intercourse several times a day at public expense. Most Americans will say “no.” President Obama and Democrats in Congress have said “yes.” What will the Republican Party say?
Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.