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Fluke's 'Reproductive Justice' vs Religious Freedom

from the March 06, 2012 eNews issue
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When President Barack Obama made a supportive call to Georgetown student Sandra Fluke, he took a definite position on America's contraception controversy as a woman's rights issue, and in doing so turned his back on the religious freedom concerns involved in the matter. The controversy stirs up questions that are much deeper than whether Rush Limbaugh should be calling a female law student a "slut"; it demands that Americans make decisions about how far they want the government micromanaging every aspect of their lives. It demands that Americans take a stand about how far an institution should be forced to financially support personal decisions that violate its religious and moral codes.

Sandra Fluke is a Georgetown law student as well as a 30-something activist dedicated to making contraception and other "reproductive healthcare" free for university students. Rush Limbaugh spotlighted Fluke nationally when he called her a "slut" and said, "So Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal: If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. And I'll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch." Rush later apologized for his disparaging comments as a poor effort at humor. His attack earned Fluke a call from the President himself.

Rush has rarely been praised for his diplomacy, but his comments were not just inappropriate, they have served to fuel a backlash in support of Fluke and free contraception for women. Unfortunately, the firestorm has diverted attention from the real issue. The issue is not about whether contraception is useful for society. It's not whether the easy availability of contraception protects students or just encourages sexual promiscuity. The issue is this: should Georgetown, a Catholic institution, be forced to cover contraception in its health plans when the Catholic Church opposes contraception? Does the U.S. government have the authority to demand such a thing? Do we want the government making decisions about how we run our businesses and our schools and our homes, down to the fine details? Where does this sort of invasion end?

The idea that this is a woman's rights issue is a farce. Georgetown was not sending people with cameras to spy on women in their dorm rooms nor insisting that the coeds wear ankle-length dresses. Georgetown has not persecuted its female students for using birth control. This private Jesuit university simply does not pay for contraception as part of students' health plans. The President's Office of Budget and Management is reviewing a possible new regulation that could affect student health plans, and students like Fluke are fighting to get not only contraception, but even sex change operations covered by school health plans.

Contraception is much easier to sell to the public than gender reassignment, though, and Fluke uses emotionally charged language in promoting her cause. After not being able to speak at a recent hearing, Fluke told The Washington Post, "My testimony would have been about women who have been affected by their policy, who have medical needs and have suffered dire consequences… The committee did not get to hear real stories I had to share, about actual women who have been dramatically affected by this policy."

Fluke said it has been "heartbreaking" to watch the government "play political football with women's health."

Before taking Fluke too seriously, let's remember a few facts about Georgetown University. The 2011-2012 annual tuition for the full-time undergraduate is almost $41,000. Law students pay nearly $47,000. Georgetown is also not a slipshod school that accepts just anybody; its student body is expected to be full to the brim with exceptionally bright, well-informed young people. For Fluke to suggest that Georgetown females' health has been dramatically affected by the fact that their school health insurance won't pay for a $20-per-month (or less) pill prescription seems a bit far-fetched. Students can easily pay four times as much each month on their iPhone plans.

Whether married or not, whether promiscuous or not, Georgetown students are certainly a bright, capable group. Those in need of contraception should be expected to find it, with or without coverage in their health plans. If they don't want to pay for a prescription for the pill, Trojans are sold, readily available, in grocery stores and drug stores and in gas station bathrooms for a few quarters. If Georgetown law students are desperately broke, they can obtain free condoms at a host of locations in Washington DC (see link below). Most county health departments across the country will provide condoms as part of the effort to prevent unwanted pregnancies and combat the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

The whole matter is not about women's health or "reproductive justice." The matter is about forcing the entire country, regardless of religious or moral values, to submit to a far-left sexual agenda.

The U.S. Constitution has nothing in it about subsidizing personal decisions. It does, however, uphold religious liberty. Fluke's crusade to deny freedom of conscience to Georgetown University – and any other like-minded private school – not only violates the First Amendment, it insults women who are truly suffering from attacks on their rights. Terms like "reproductive justice" should not be bandied about lightly; they should be saved for efforts to protect women from true violations - forced sterilization or forced abortions or the tragedy of female circumcision. Expecting young women to pay for their own contraception is not extreme cruelty. It's just part of expecting them to grow up and take responsibility for their own life choices.

Related Links:

  •   Free Condom Locations: - Department of Health
  •   The Fluke Distraction - The Wall Street Journal
  •   Sandra Fluke, Gender Reassignment, and Health Insurance - The College Politico
  •   2011-2012 Tuition and Fees - Georgetown University
  •   Limbaugh: Contraception Advocate Should Post Online Sex Videos - MSNBC
  •   Meet Sandra Fluke: The Woman You Didn't Hear At Congress' Contraceptives Hearing - The Washington Post