The battle over birth control heats up once again, but it’s not on Maury Povich. This time, the debate involves conservative opinionist Rush Limbaugh and Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke.
Fluke testified to congressional Democrats in support of their health care policy proposal, which would make Georgetown, a Jesuit private college, required by law to provide birth control through their insurance plans.
Fluke said she believed that birth control should be covered by insurance because currently, contraception can cost female law students up to $3000 during law school alone without a co-pay.
Limbaugh attacked Fluke on his talk show by calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute” for the message she delivered in her testimony.
While Limbaugh is covered by his constitutional right to free speech, he is forgetting consequences he could possibly face for making such libelous comments.
Several defamatory words fall into the category of libel, but Limbaugh, a major public figure, used words imputing a crime (“prostitute”) and unchasity (“slut”)– possibly to silence women as a whole on this issue.
If Limbaugh’s “slut” and “prostitute” comments weren’t libelous enough, he also stated, “If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
What makes this situation even more insulting is that Fluke wasn’t even speaking for herself. A lesbian friend of hers needed birth control pills to prevent ovarian cysts from forming. Her university refused to pay for oral contraception based on religious beliefs, ignoring the fact that women use birth control pills for many other medical issues.
Limbaugh did publicly apologize to Fluke by saying he did not mean to personally attack her, but even as a joke, the words he used were blatantly libelous, and, if taken seriously, could severely ruin the credibility of a young woman who is standing up for her right to contraceptives.