Time Magazine has announced its candidates for 2012 Person of the Year, and among its 40 nominees this year is feminist birth control pill activist Sandra Fluke.
Sandra Fluke, a 31-year old attorney and daughter of Richard Fluke of Tatesville United Methodist Church in Everett, Pennsylvania, came into the spotlight this year when she was invited by Democrats to speak before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about her views regarding the contraception mandate in Obamacare. A panel consisting of clergy and theologians were set to testify about the exception clause in the law, which exempted churches and non-profit religious organizations from the requirement, but not businesses or educational institutions.
When chairman Darrell Issa rejected Fluke’s invitation, stating that she was not qualified to speak on the topic, the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee scheduled a separate meeting to accommodate her. At the time of her testimony, Fluke was still attending Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C.
“Everyday I hear from another woman who has suffered from a lack of contraceptive coverage,” she stated in an online video about the matter. “It has been heartbreaking, frankly, to see women’s health treated as a political football in the national media, while around my campus, I instead see the women that are affected by this policy.”
Fluke then proceeded to explain how it costs law school students like herself approximately $3,000 a year for birth control, and that she could not afford such an expense. She stated that 40 percent of female students at Georgetown were adversely affected by the expense of purchasing contraception, and that she believed insurance companies should be covering the cost.
“One [student] told [me] how embarrassed and powerless she felt when she was standing at the counter and then learned for the first time that contraception wasn’t covered, and then had to turn and walk away,” Fluke said. “Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception.”
She told the committee that access to birth control in America is insufficient because “[abortion] clinics are unable to meet the crushing demand for these services.” Fluke then stated that the religious exemption should not be permitted.
“When you let university administrators and other employers, rather than women and their doctors, dictate whose medical needs are good enough, and whose are not, a woman’s health takes a back seat to a bureacracy focused on policing her body,” she said.
Following her comments, many were baffled at why Fluke felt that others should be forced to pay for her sexual activity. Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh came under fire when he called Fluke a “slut” on his broadcast.
“She 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,” Limbaugh said. “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.”
He later apologized for his choice of words after being rebuked by Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
Fluke went on to participate in Obama’s re-election efforts, stumping for him in Denver, Colorado and at the Democratic National Convention.
“[Y]our new president could be a man who … [creates] an America in which states humiliate women by forcing us to endure invasive ultrasounds we don’t want and our doctors say we don’t need,” she stated at the DNC in Charlotte, North Carolina. “An America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it.”
In response, Time Magazine seems to be applauding the feminist activist.
“Fluke … weathered the attention with poise and maturity and emerged as a political celebrity,” the popular magazine writes. “Democrats gave her a national-convention speaking slot as part of their push to make reproductive rights a central issue in the 2012 presidential campaign — one that helped Barack Obama trounce Mitt Romney among single women on Election Day.”
However, Fluke continues to receive criticism across the country for her comments. In September, Illinois Republican Representative Joe Walsh stated that Fluke’s speech at the Democratic National Convention was “embarrassing.”
“Think about this, a 31-32 year old law student who has been a student for life, who gets up there in front of a national audience and tells the American people, ‘I want America to pay for my contraceptives,’” Walsh remarked to an audience at a CREDO Super PAC. “You’re kidding me.”
In addition to Fluke’s nomination for Time Magazine‘s “Person of the Year,” other contenders include Vice President Joe Biden, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomber, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and comic television show host Stephen Colbert.