Dispatches From The War On Women: The GOP’s Fluke Problem

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Given the relentless assault on women’s reproductive rights conservatives have been waging since their 2010 midterm election wins, Democrats were smart to push back hard against this anti-woman rhetoric at their convention, not just because a majority of Americans support access to family planning services and abortion rights, but because the issue brings out the worst misogynistic impulses in conservative lawmakers.

And nobody really hits those buttons for conservatives like Sandra Fluke. Fluke, a Georgetown law student, rose to national prominence after Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and other conservatives refused to allow her to testify at hearings over the contraception mandate in Obamacare and concerns it impedes religious liberties. When Fluke refused to quietly slink away like conservatives wanted they upped their attacks. Rush Limbaugh went on a tirade calling Fluke a slut, and viciously attacking Fluke until it almost drove him off the air.

So when Fluke took the stage at the Democratic National Convention, in prime time viewing, Democrats had to know it would cause conservatives’ heads to explode. And they were right.

Par for the course with conservative attacks on Fluke and other advocates, their reactions didn’t address the policy Fluke championed: equal coverage of health care benefits for men and women at equal cost. Instead they returned to the tired slut jokes while they clutched their pearls over the audacity this young woman had to continue to refuse to just go away quietly.

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) who is in a tough battle for his seat against Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth provided the perfect picture of the kinds of attacks conservatives continue to lob at Fluke.

“So at the Democratic Convention Wednesday night their first prime time speaker was Sandra Fluke, whatever her name is,” Walsh said. “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.’ You’re kidding me. Go get a job. Go get a job Sandra Fluke.” “This a woman who feels entitled that we all should pay for her contraceptives,” he said. “This is what we are teaching Americans? That was embarrassing. That was embarrassing.”

If it wasn’t obvious before, it should be obvious now. For conservatives, this is not about Fluke. She is merely a surrogate for their war over women’s bodies. Without access to affordable and reliable contraception women cannot achieve economic parity with men. Ironic, then that this latest wave of attacks are telling Fluke to do exactly what women are trying to do everyday: achieve economic equality.

In the case of Walsh’s comments, and the “facutal” basis for their attacks against Fluke it’s worth nothing those facts are wrong. This is not “taxpayer-funded” birth control but rather insurance coverage for birth control paid by individual premiums–premiums paid by Fluke and thousands of other women out there.
But more importantly, as conservatives continue their battle against equality for all but the white Christian man, this remains a battle with real lives on the line. Not Issa’s, Limbaugh’s, or Walsh’s of course, but women’s lives.

Conservatives can continue to try and use women’s bodily autonomy as a wedge issue in this and future elections, and as we’ve seen from their reaction to Fluke, they will. But in the meantime, women’s lives are on the line–a fact that doesn’t seem to concern the “pro-life” right.

Related Stories:

GOP Rep Compares Sandra Fluke To A Studding Bulldog

Limbaugh Widens His Attacks Against Women

Obama Calls Sandra Fluke To Say Thank You [Video]

Photo from nmogburn via flickr.


Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown4 years ago

Well Michael it wouldn't be the first exploding troll we had to deal with!

Michael G.
Michael T.4 years ago

Watch out Kevin (stifled giggle) Jean P is notorious for going off all nuclear on folks who call her on her comments, you know like as in confronting her with truth and stuff.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown4 years ago

Jean P. - Wow, you nitwits on the right still don't get it do you? No one is asking government to pay for a damn thing. They want contraception included in the health plans that the students pay for. Turn of fox and rush and step out of the right wing bubble for god's sake.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia4 years ago

I am greatful for Sandra Fluke, and women like her, for standing up for what's right and staying strong when morons attack her. I hope she will be remembered for it. She is doing what those GOP bastards hate, taking control over her body and educating herself. Good for her!

Michael G.
Michael T.4 years ago

Sorry previous post was intended for a different Dispatches forum

Michael G.
Michael T.4 years ago

Just for the sake of it I’ll post this again.

You know, the fetus isn't a baby until it is born.

And even then it doesn't possess the powers to even know that it has a self for at least the 1st 3 months after birth.

We have been forced by those who wish to see even an unfertilized egg and live sperm as human beings into cutting the time back farther and farther to placate the dreamers. They aren't human beings.

Even at 3 months after being born the brain is not demarcated (separately identifiable as white matter and gray matter).

The white matter is the wires that convey messages from the body to the brain, and the gray matter is where thinking occurs. If the thinking matter doesn’t exist, well guess what? Thinking doesn’t exist.

It isn't even a person yet even though it is outside the womb.

It will take up to 6 months to begin the earliest stages of being aware of self and the rest of 2 years to comprehend the difference between itself and the external world.

Michael G.
Michael T.4 years ago

Isn't it absolutely entertaining to watch a troll peel off the bottom of their shoe stick it in their loud flapping mouth and murmur yum yum as they gnaw on the neoprine while calling it leather?

Jean P.
Jean Potts4 years ago

Sandra Fluke pays $50,000 + a year --to go to school and she can't pay for her own contraceptives.???
She is a 'plant' for the liberal cause, and me -- not being a Catholic- I hope they excommunicate her. Teeth care is a health issue too.. Maybe the taxpayers should buy her toothpaste too.

Nils Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago

thank you

Paula M.
Paula M.4 years ago

Maureen H, the difference between the positions of the Catholic Church and Sandra Fluke is the difference between persuasion and coercion.

The Catholic Church has a moral objection to the use of contraception. For this reason it seeks to persuade its own members not to use contraception, and objects to any demand that it use its resources to supply contraception to others. But note that the Catholic Church does not prevent its students from purchasing contraception or from purchasing insurance that would provide them with contraception without additional cost.

Sandra Fluke would like to have contraception available to her at no cost. She therefore supports laws and policies compelling others, including those like the Catholic Church who have moral objections to contraception, to pay money towards giving her this free benefit.

It is not the Catholic Church who wants to tell people “what kind of coverage you can have;” that is the position of Sandra Fluke and the Democratic party.