A young law school student appears before U.S. Congress supporting increased women’s access to contraception.
What follows is a torrent of abuse from the country’s leading conservative talk show host using language that would be seen as demeaning by Americans whatever their political stripes.
And just as she was about to appear on U.S. network television Friday to talk about her ongoing ordeal, Georgetown University law school student Sandra Fluke got a call from the President of the United States of America.
You can watch Ms. Fluke’s retelling of the telephone call she got from Mr. Obama as she waited in the green room before talking to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, but the furor started when America’s most popular talk show host Rush Limbaugh called Ms. Fluke a “slut” on his radio show. The comment has been called “misogynistic” by her Catholic college, politicians and ordinary Americans.
Mr. Obama’s telephone call visibly moved the 25-year-old student who has campaigned on issues relating to women’s reproductive health.
“He encouraged me and supported me and thanked me for speaking out about the concerns of American women,” Ms. Fluke told journalist Andrea Mitchell. “What was really personal for me was that he said to tell my parents that they should be proud.”
In the Republican leadership race, candidates have slammed Mr. Obama’s “war on religion” and its policy of requiring Catholic institutions to provide contraception to its employees in their health-care coverage. The White House, responding to criticism from religious institutions, offered a compromise.
But the issue has persisted, with Republicans candidates like social conservative Rick Santorum continuing to criticize the Obama administration.
This week, a U.S. Senate measure brought forward by Republicans would have exempted any employer – and not just religious institutions – from providing contraception in its health coverage to employees.
That measure was narrowly defeated.
Some Republicans believe that Mr. Obama’s contraceptive care policy infringes on religious freedom, requiring employers who oppose contraception on religious grounds to make it available to employees.
For Democrats, contraception, which is used by the vast majority of American women, is about women’s health and the right to access.
By calling Ms. Fluke, Mr. Obama’s opponents will argue that he has only further politicized what has already been a highly charged issue and that his motive is political gain.
Mr. Limbaugh, who has not apologized for his comments, made the controversial remarks about Ms. Fluke earlier this week on his radio program.