Obama enters birth control coverage fray between Limbaugh, law student

— Stepping into an emerging culture clash over women, President Barack Obama made a supportive phone call Friday to a law student who testified before Congress about the need for birth control coverage, only to be called a "slut" by Rush Limbaugh.

For Obama, it was an emphatic plunge into the latest flare-up on social issues. Democratic officeholders and liberal advocacy have accused Republicans of waging a "war on women" because of GOP stances on contraception and abortion rights, and Limbaugh's tirade on his radio talk show was seen as an escalation.

In addition to her call from the president, the third-year Georgetown University law student, Sandra Fluke, was backed by members of Congress, women's groups, and the administration and faculty at her Roman Catholic university.

Demands for Limbaugh's sponsors to pull their ads from his show rocketed through cyberspace, and at least three companies, Quicken Loans and bedding retailers Sleep Train and Sleep Number, bowed to the pressure.

Obama considers Limbaugh's remarks "reprehensible," according to White House spokesman Jay Carney. He said the president called Fluke to "express his disappointment that she has been the subject of inappropriate personal attacks" and to thank her for speaking out on an issue of public policy.

"The fact that our political discourse has become debased in many ways is bad enough," Carney said. "It is worse when it's directed at a private citizen who was simply expressing her views."

Obama reached Fluke by phone as she was waiting to go on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports."

"He's really a very a kind man," Fluke later told The Associated Press. "He just called to express concern for me and to make sure I was OK and to say that he supported me and to thank me for speaking out about something that's so important to so many women."

As for Limbaugh's remarks, Fluke said, "I just thought that they were really outside the bounds of civil discourse."

By calling Fluke and injecting himself into the Limbaugh controversy, Obama sent a message to more than one law student. He was reaching out to young voters and women — two groups whose support he needs in this re-election year. And he was underscoring that the White House, despite bungling its rollout of the birth control policy, sees it as a winning issue and welcomes Obama's name next to it.

Fluke was given a chance to talk to Congress on Feb. 23, even though lawmakers were on a break and just a few Democratic allies were on hand to cheer her on. The previous week, a Republican-controlled House committee had rejected Democrats' request that she testify on the Obama administration's policy requiring that employees of religion-affiliated institutions have access to health insurance that covers birth control.

Republicans have faulted parts of Obama's health care reform as unconstitutional, including an initial requirement, since withdrawn by the president, that contraceptives be covered under the insurance policies of businesses, including those with religious affiliations.

Fluke said that Georgetown, a Jesuit institution, does not provide contraception coverage in its student health plan and that contraception can cost a woman more than $3,000 during law school. She spoke of a friend who had an ovary removed because the insurance company wouldn't cover the prescription birth control she needed to stop the growth of cysts.

On Wednesday, Limbaugh unleashed a lengthy and often savage verbal assault on Fluke.

"What does it say about the college coed ... who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex?" Limbaugh said. "It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex."

He went on to suggest that Fluke distribute sex tapes of herself.

"If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it," he said. "We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch."

The backlash began quickly and showed no signs of abating as scores of Democratic members of Congress denounced Limbaugh and urged their GOP colleagues to do likewise.

The Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner, responded through a spokesman.

"The Speaker obviously believes the use of those words was inappropriate, as is trying to raise money off the situation," said Boehner aide Michael Steel.

Later, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the committee that blocked Fluke's original testimony, issued a letter repudiating Limbaugh's comments but also excoriating the Democrats and their supporters.

"I ask that you join me in a broader condemnation of the attacks on people of faith ... and the regrettable personal attacks that have come from individuals on both sides of the issue," Issa wrote to Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.

Boehner and Issa are among the GOP leaders accused of waging the purported "war on women." The topic has been cited often in recent fundraising pitches by many liberal advocacy groups, and they recently have shown more aggressiveness.

In early February, after a three-day furor, the Susan G. Komen breast cancer charity dropped plans to withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood, a leading abortion provider. And more recently, after incurring protests and ridicule, Republican politicians in Virginia backed away from a bill that would have required invasive vaginal ultrasounds as a pre-condition for many abortions.

Amid this controversy, polls show that Obama's support among women has been increasing.

At Georgetown, more than 130 faculty members signed a letter praising Fluke for her "grace and strength" and condemning Limbaugh's remarks. The university president, John J. DeGioia, did likewise.

He said Limbaugh and others responded to Fluke "with behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student."

On Thursday, aware of the firestorm he had ignited, Limbaugh was unapologetic.

"I think this is hilarious. Absolutely hilarious" he said on his show. "The left has been thrown into an outright conniption fit!"

On Friday, still defiant, Limbaugh scoffed at the concept of a conservative "war on women."

"Amazingly, when there is the slightest bit of opposition to this new welfare entitlement being created, then all of a sudden we hate women! We want 'em barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen," he said. "And now, at the end of this week, I am the person that the women of America are to fear the most."

Longtime Republican strategist Terry Holt suggested voters might see Obama's response to an over-the-top radio host as "pure pandering" to woo women's votes.

"This conversation seems to serve Rush Limbaugh and President Obama equally well," Holt said.

Fluke, in Washington, issued a statement expressing gratitude for the support she's received and resolve to continue speaking out.

"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," she said.

"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."

Rick Santorum, one of the Republican presidential contenders seeking to oppose Obama, commented to CNN about Limbaugh's remarks.

"He's being absurd," Santorum said. "But that's, you know, an entertainer can be absurd."

While campaigning in Ohio for the Republican presidential primary, Mitt Romney was asked about Limbaugh's comments and steered his answer away from the uproar.

"It's not the language I would have used," Romney said after a campaign event in Cleveland. "But I'm focusing on the issues that I think are significant in the country today and that's why I'm here talking about jobs in Ohio."

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Comments » 184

wonderful (Inactive) writes:

This must be a fluke, eh?

No mo' G-----

baldygrandpa writes:

I have two voting age daughters. Both good liberals and now they are more fired up to ensure an Obama victory. Why are republicans so intent on self destruction?

marcari writes:

It is all over. The idea that a young woman can appear on national television and disclose that it costs her one thousand dollars a year for birth control...and then gets a call from the president of the United States to congratulate her for her testimony is beyond the pale. As was once said to McCarthy, "Have you no shame" (Sandra). Then the professors at Georgetown commend her for her grace and strength. I would never call anyone what Limbaugh called her, but what words come to mind when a very sexually active student demands that the rest of us pay for her "protection"? Not strong, not graceful, but...I don't use the words, publicly or privately. The "Lola concept" (from the broadway musical) I want what I want when I want it,is a dominent theme in America today...next we are Greece. Finally, this has nothing to do with health, equal rights for women, etc., it is big daddy government telling us that Sandra is right and I am wrong, but I will have to pay for her regardless.

Coastal writes:

This is just something the Marxists drummed up to take the focus off of the Obama failures.

For some reason Obama would rather not talk about the price of gas and the middle east about to blow up in his face. You would think with all the bowing The little Nazi did we would all be pumping $1 gas and Egypt would be opening Disney East instead of holding Americans hostage.

unfatcat writes:

Rush should've just said that the student's claims were not credible ($3,000? are you kidding????), nor the responsibility of taxpayers and left it at that. The act of sex is not medical. It is a behavior and, for most people, recreational. It is an individual's choice of behavior. Like any behavior, there are consequences. Calling this girl a "woman of allegedly ill repute" without knowing her, was not right. But she deserved criticism for her socialist ideals, why she borrowed taxpayer money to go to this Ivy League School; and still intends to live off of the taxpayer.

catsmeow writes:

These right wing male chauvinist pigs are being drawn out to show their true convictions. Hopefully people are paying attention. (Stepford wives: listen up!) We seem to be reverting back to the stone age. As to the comment by "marcari" that the rest of us have to pay for others' birth control - it is a lot cheaper for health insurance to cover birth control than to pay for a pregnancy and birth of a child. As a matter of fact, why are we having to pay for other people to have children? Pregnancy is a choice or an accident but is not a medical condition. Let's just outlaw health care coverage for pregnancy and giving birth, as well! I'm sure the right wing would love that, if they had thought of it. And no more coverage for fertility treatments. Isn't that "playing God"? The right wing should be against coverage for fertility treatments - in fact they should want them to be illegal! Then all those people who can't get "fertilized" will have to adopt all the unwanted children produced by a lack of birth control. We also need to save the money on health care coverage so we can pay for the "home schoolers", such as Rick Santorum who got over $100,000 to "home school" (indoctrinate) his children. I'm beginning to think he must have met up with Jerry Sandusky when he was at Penn State - maybe that is what has made him so mean spirited and judgmental!

unfatcat writes:

in response to GOPWhistleblower:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

When contraception can be purchased at the drug store, on the shelf, and without a pharmacy; your point is mute. And, when insurance companies don't cover drugs that are over the counter, for which you pay premiums for, why should taxpayers be on the hook for anyone's behavior. Is there no sense of self anymore?

marcari writes:

in response to GOPWhistleblower:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

My opinion is that the president should have not entered the fray. No, my insurance company does not pay for Viagra...I have choices as to what my insurance covers, Viagra is not my choice. Finally, you have no idea as to what my concerns are regarding oil subsidies. Your comments prove my point... It is all over...Franklin said it best "A Republic, if you can keep it"...with voters like some of those that post here...we are losing it.

whatswrong writes:

It's sick how people can be against birth control - BUT THEN STUFF THEIR FAT FACES WITH THE REMAINS OF BRUTALLY TORMENTED AND SLAUGHTERED ANIMALS.

whatswrong writes:

WATCH THIS VIDEO AND THEN TELL ME HOW WONDERFUL HUMANS ARE:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHA4HN...

beachykeen writes:

Yes, many insurance companies do cover Viagra, so what part of "double-standard" don't people understand?

Rush Limbaugh is a fat, drug-addicted, publicity-seeking msogynistic buffoon who says things entirely for the attention it will get him.

And his hubris is typical when he says that he was the person in America that women fear most. I could never fear such a cartoonish excuse of a man; I think he's simply worthless and won't waste another moment of my time on the likes of him.

HAP writes:

Do you think that your tax dollars should pay for what goes on in someone's bedroom, or um, dorm. Pay for their sexual desires? Should little leagues request our tax dollars to pay for their helmuts and pads, because they'd play better and can't afford it. This is just more BS coming from s----- people who are probably being paid to say such s----- things by the stinky BO in the White House.

baldygrandpa writes:

in response to SoldierStrong:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Posted before but maybe you didn't read it Average cost of birth control pills is $40 a month or maybe you can't read? That would not surprise me.If a birth in a hospital costs something like 14k don't you think the insurance companies would be falling over themselves to prevent unwanted pregnancies? Think the bottom line.
BCBS pay %100 for flue jabs for seniors Why? Because they know that just a few seniors who are hospitalized with flue wipes out their profit.
It's all about the bottom line.

marcari writes:

in response to catsmeow:

These right wing male chauvinist pigs are being drawn out to show their true convictions. Hopefully people are paying attention. (Stepford wives: listen up!) We seem to be reverting back to the stone age. As to the comment by "marcari" that the rest of us have to pay for others' birth control - it is a lot cheaper for health insurance to cover birth control than to pay for a pregnancy and birth of a child. As a matter of fact, why are we having to pay for other people to have children? Pregnancy is a choice or an accident but is not a medical condition. Let's just outlaw health care coverage for pregnancy and giving birth, as well! I'm sure the right wing would love that, if they had thought of it. And no more coverage for fertility treatments. Isn't that "playing God"? The right wing should be against coverage for fertility treatments - in fact they should want them to be illegal! Then all those people who can't get "fertilized" will have to adopt all the unwanted children produced by a lack of birth control. We also need to save the money on health care coverage so we can pay for the "home schoolers", such as Rick Santorum who got over $100,000 to "home school" (indoctrinate) his children. I'm beginning to think he must have met up with Jerry Sandusky when he was at Penn State - maybe that is what has made him so mean spirited and judgmental!

Once again, this is not a money issue...my concern is not that it is cheaper to provide one thing over another. My point is, I am being forced to provide for another's wants. I am happy to pay taxes for another's needs. When your thinking dominates our society, you might wish you understood my point rather than simply falling back on your ideological crutches. By the way, your logic is flawed...it's called reductio ad absurdum..look it up

Heraclitus writes:

I'm just fascinated that anyone still thinks that what Lush Limbaugh says really matters.

Amazing.

Hayduke writes:

Oh my goodness people. How about the concept of 2 married people who may not be ready to have children yet? Does that make them horrible people to want to reap the benefits of marriage without the results of 10 kids in the process? We have too many people on this earth as it is! And do a little research folks, and you will learn about the MANY diverse health benefits that birth control can have for women that involve reducing cancer risks, disease, etc. Wow, there are a lot of ignorant, incredibly dense people out there.

Mulligan65 writes:

I don't condone Limbaughs comments. I think they were dispicable. I'm just wondering why the MSM and the far left gave Bill Maher a free pass when he called Sarah Palin a c@#nt and her daughter Bristol a sl#@t. No bias in the media?? PLEASE.

Heraclitus writes:

I just saw fat boy on the 10:00 News. Is he gaining weight again? Doesn't he have any willpower?

Coastal writes:

in response to GOPWhistleblower:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

There is no conspiracy, it’s pretty clear that it’s easy to distract idiots from the real issues.

Has the NDN done a story about the American hostages? The big story is a liberal activist lying to congress about not being able to afford a $4 generic drug and condoms that are already given out for free by the gubmint.

HAP writes:

Go blow whistleblower It's just common sense and anyone with a brain would get it. Obviously you don't. But of course this president promised he'd take care of ya'll.
Checks in the mailbox, no job, no worries. Just keep depending on me morons. Yep, the socialist way.

gentleIbis writes:

Preventing pregnancy is only one of the reasons a woman's doctor may prescribe birth control pills. And using birth control to allow a woman to space her pregnancies well enough apart to ensure her health and the heath of the baby is good medical care too.

The reason a woman and her doctor decide to use that medication is between the two of them. It does not mean she has low morals.

We covered this several decades ago.

Stella_Blue (Inactive) writes:

Obama 2012.
Take it to the bank.

nosebreather writes:

Only Obama has gotten more people to vote Democratic than Limbaugh has this century.

malcolmlandry writes:

Barry has never had a job and he is married to a 200 pound first woman. He is clearly unqualified to to govern the health care of promiscuous middle aged college students.

catsmeow writes:

in response to marcari:

Once again, this is not a money issue...my concern is not that it is cheaper to provide one thing over another. My point is, I am being forced to provide for another's wants. I am happy to pay taxes for another's needs. When your thinking dominates our society, you might wish you understood my point rather than simply falling back on your ideological crutches. By the way, your logic is flawed...it's called reductio ad absurdum..look it up

You missed the subtle sarcasm, didn't you? Doesn't surprise me . . .Contraception is a need.

Shaawe writes:

in response to Stella_Blue:

Obama 2012.
Take it to the bank.

I think you're right, Stella.

gentleIbis writes:

in response to marcari:

Once again, this is not a money issue...my concern is not that it is cheaper to provide one thing over another. My point is, I am being forced to provide for another's wants. I am happy to pay taxes for another's needs. When your thinking dominates our society, you might wish you understood my point rather than simply falling back on your ideological crutches. By the way, your logic is flawed...it's called reductio ad absurdum..look it up

Yes, we are all asked to pay for goods or services that we feel other people may want rather than need. We all do and it works out pretty well. It not only helps keeps costs low but it also prevents people, and the government, from making value judgments they are not intellectually prepared for or morally entitled to make.

So what do you want? Do you want a tea party monitor present at your next exam to make sure that you are only prescribed medication that you need for a medical condition and that you're not going to use them to prevent a pregnancy. Because that's the only way to make sure that the doctor doesn't prescribe birth control pills to control bleeding, or pain, or cysts, when the woman really wants them to keep from becoming pregnant. The only way to know for sure is for one of your representatives to be present to question both the doctor and the patient.

How about diabetes medicine for people who eat too much sugar or high blood pressure medicine for the obese? are they going to be denied medication based on your "feelings" about their life style?

Oh, and can you find out for us if the pills rush was addicted too were paid for by insurance? and what about his rehab? was that covered? when did his need become a want?

pickleed writes:

If White Men had menstrual cycles and could get pregnant, this would be a non-issue. Contraception, abortion, etc. would be covered every way but Sunday. This is just a continued drum beat by primarily far righters to return women to their proper place. What a shame. Any women who supports this nonsense should be ashamed of herself. Private Insurance companies are for profit - it is cheaper to prevent pregnancy, duh. Women have the right to take contraceptives or not regardless of whether the cost is covered by insurance. I guess women are just too s----- to figure it our for themselves.

TiredoftheBS writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Francophile2 writes:

Rush is a poor excuse for a man and represents the Republican party. The attack on women is beyond belief in 2012 and they're hearing it loud and clear. Never, ever underestimate the power of women. They will stand together and unite. Ask Susan G Komen what it is costing them. Lights out, Republicans!

malcolmlandry writes:

in response to pickleed:

If White Men had menstrual cycles and could get pregnant, this would be a non-issue. Contraception, abortion, etc. would be covered every way but Sunday. This is just a continued drum beat by primarily far righters to return women to their proper place. What a shame. Any women who supports this nonsense should be ashamed of herself. Private Insurance companies are for profit - it is cheaper to prevent pregnancy, duh. Women have the right to take contraceptives or not regardless of whether the cost is covered by insurance. I guess women are just too s----- to figure it our for themselves.

Another self loathing liberal that wishes she was black.

Francophile2 writes:

in response to TiredoftheBS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You're the reason why women take birth control.

Brer_Rabbit writes:

in response to SoldierStrong:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Francophile2 writes:

in response to malcolmlandry:

Another self loathing liberal that wishes she was black.

Malcolm, your red is showing ... get use to taking a back seat ... The world is passing you by ... Finally!

volochine writes:

It is pretty clear that Rush has no clue about what he is talking about. Birth control is a fixed expense. It does not matter if you have sex, 3,000 times a month or no times a month.

Thank heavens Rush has no off-spring from his 4 wives.

Finally, the bottom line is that insurance companies when writing insurance policies will ALWAYS include contraception coverage, unless directed otherwise, because births costs 50 times more.

Rush is disgusting. I wish I knew who advertises on his shock-jock business model.

dab writes:

in response to marcari:

It is all over. The idea that a young woman can appear on national television and disclose that it costs her one thousand dollars a year for birth control...and then gets a call from the president of the United States to congratulate her for her testimony is beyond the pale. As was once said to McCarthy, "Have you no shame" (Sandra). Then the professors at Georgetown commend her for her grace and strength. I would never call anyone what Limbaugh called her, but what words come to mind when a very sexually active student demands that the rest of us pay for her "protection"? Not strong, not graceful, but...I don't use the words, publicly or privately. The "Lola concept" (from the broadway musical) I want what I want when I want it,is a dominent theme in America today...next we are Greece. Finally, this has nothing to do with health, equal rights for women, etc., it is big daddy government telling us that Sandra is right and I am wrong, but I will have to pay for her regardless.

Well said - I agree completely with your post.

Beachglow writes:

in response to Stella_Blue:

Obama 2012.
Take it to the bank.

And you can be guaranteed the check will bounce.

Beachglow writes:

Just another example of Obama not paying attention to the big picture. He needs to get involved in this garbage like a whole in the head.

Do something important with your time, Mr. President.

Ironbutterfly writes:

The principle of the matter is lost on liberals as usual, follow the money.
Obama's campaign promises amount to a grade schooler running for class president, free ice cream for everyone, only another silly classmate would fall for that one.
The old libs are gleefull they have a whole new generation of young woman to protect from the evil right. Been there done that, the sixties are over, woman can do whatever they want, if they can pay for it themselves.

wonderful (Inactive) writes:

in response to Stella_Blue:

Obama 2012.
Take it to the bank.

The obama closed it? after the campaign contributions, eh?

G-----

wonderful (Inactive) writes:

in response to Brer_Rabbit:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Kool!

This is in the Bible?

I saw it on the oval office and congressional gym web cams, eh?

What will they 'think?' of next, eh?

Oh, that G-----

bh1799 writes:

TOO BAD Rush's mother didn't use birth control!
The world would be a better place without a piece of garbage like him.

Coastal writes:

You would think that the NDN would run a story about instead of closing GITMO like the little Nazi promised he would do, we are spending $750,000 to build the terrorists a soccer field.

That would keep 750 liberal activists supplied with condoms for a year.

DonkeyWhispererakaDuh_novan writes:

just filled up my truck $111.00 - wish the oil companies would be able to drill half as much as that girls boyfriend!!

sunnysideup writes:

GEE HOW SUPRISING!! Is it any wonder why so many once Demorat and Independent 0 supporters are jumping ship? These clowns can't tell the truth about anything, and on top of it they have resort to staging pathetic charades such as this to attempt to gain support!

http://patdollard.com/2012/03/breakin...

DonkeyWhispererakaDuh_novan writes:

I guess when there is nothing else wrong in the United States of America you have time to coddle this poor young girl.

Bramble writes:

Reverend Rush is doing wonders for the Democrats as he hunkers in his bunker spewing his hateful gospel. Please don't stop. It doesn't matter to you that more than half the voters are women, just go ahead and mock them. Republicans are looking worse every day you do it.

Ironbutterfly writes:

Obama calling this girl at home is about all he's good for, stunts and pandering appeal to his "reality show" followers.
How presidential to insert himself into the silly frey while we have Americans being killed over a book burning and $5.00 a gallon gas. The failure in chief is better suited to sing along with BB King, I can't wait till Nov. 2012 when he returns to Sweet Home Chicago where he belongs.

h8snow writes:

Limbaugh and the likes of Glen Beck, quite common throughout the Republican Party, preach hatred. They symbolize the current GOP and will expedite the demise of the party. Moderate or fade away GOP. You lost my support.

DonkeyWhispererakaDuh_novan writes:

in response to Bramble:

Reverend Rush is doing wonders for the Democrats as he hunkers in his bunker spewing his hateful gospel. Please don't stop. It doesn't matter to you that more than half the voters are women, just go ahead and mock them. Republicans are looking worse every day you do it.

most Real women in this country understand that this is not the issue effecting them most. how long have we gone with out free( nothing really free- someone has to pay for)contraception. no one is banning its use. If he would work on the economy and the gas price people would have more money to supply their own. So I hope this is the only subject he runs his re election on.
it is a loser.

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