by Oliver Willis/Media Mattes
Conservative media figures, led by Rush Limbaugh, have continually distorted and exaggerated the content of Sandra Fluke'stestimony before Democratic members of Congress.
They have gone so far afield of Fluke's actual testimony that it often appears as if they never actually watched or read it.
Here are some of the conservative claims about Fluke's testimony, along with what she actually said.
Conservative media claimed Fluke's activism was hidden
Conservative media figures have suggested that Fluke's history of activism was hidden and that Fluke portrayed herself as a concerned college student unconnected with any cause. In fact, Fluke's testimony discusses her activism.
- Warner Todd Huston wrote on Breitbart.com: "The media is presenting this Fluke character as if she is just a fresh-faced, wide-eyed, 23-year-old coed that has been accidentally swept up in this story. But the fact is, this Fluke woman is hardly the simple Georgetown coed that she's being portrayed as."
- Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit wrote, "The Democrat's token abused college coed is actually a 30 year-old hardcore women's rights activist."
- "Just a Grunt" of Jammie Wearing Fools wrote, "For me the interesting part of the story is the ever-evolving 'coed'. I put that in quotes because in the beginning she was described as a Georgetown law student. It was then revealed that prior to attending Georgetown she was an active women's right advocate."
From the very first paragraph of Fluke's testimony:
My name is Sandra Fluke, and I'm a third year student at Georgetown Law, a Jesuit school. I'm also a past president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice or LSRJ. I'd like to acknowledge my fellow LSRJ members and allies and all of the student activists with us and thank them for being here today.
Conservative media claimed Fluke's testimony was about her sex life
Conservatives have claimed that Fluke's testimony was about her personal sexual behavior, and her purported desire to have the government subsidize it.
- Rush Limbaugh: "What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and 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. She wants to be paid to have sex."
- CNN contributor Erick Erickson writing at RedState: "Sandra Fluke, who spends over $50,000.00 on law school per year really believes that American tax payers should, because of her expensive law school, pay for her birth control pills so she can have sex."
- Writing in National Review, Mark Steyn referred to Fluke as "the brave middle-aged schoolgirl" who "had the courage to stand up in public and demand that someone else pay for her sex life."
- On her radio show, CNN contributor Dana Loesch said, "She's doing it more than she's studying in law school. Is that why our -- is that why law sucks lately? Is that why we're having such a problem in our courts?" Loesch went on to say, "They act like they're nymphos. That's what they act like."
- On Breitbart.com, Loesch described Fluke as "a 30 year-old woman embarrassing herself before congress by testifying that she simply cannot stop getting it on and her inability to control her urges constitutes infringing upon everyone else for a bailout."
In her testimony, Fluke explained that she was "testify[ing] on behalf of the women who will benefit from the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage regulation" and that her testimony was on behalf of women "from Georgetown or other schools or who works for a religiously affiliated employer who has suffered financial, emotional, and medical burdens because of this lack of contraceptive coverage."
Fluke testified about a student who needed contraceptive medicine to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome.
In sixty-five percent of cases, our female students were interrogated by insurance representatives and university medical staff about why they needed these prescriptions and whether they were lying about their symptoms. For my friend, and 20% of women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription, despite verification of her illness from her doctor. Her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted the birth control to prevent pregnancy. She's gay, so clearly polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy.
She also testified about the need for access to contraceptive medicine after a woman was raped.
One student told us that she knew birth control wasn't covered, and she assumed that's how Geor getown's insurance handled all of women's sexual healthcare, so when she was raped, she didn't go to the doctor even to be examined or tested for sexually transmitted infections because she thought insurance wasn't going to cover something like that, something that was related to a woman's reproductive health. As one student put it, "this policy communicates to female students that our school doesn't understand our needs." These are not feelings that male fellow students experience. And they're not burdens that male students must shoulder.
In an exchange with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Fluke briefly mentioned her personal use of contraceptive medicine, but never referenced whether it was a financial burden:
REP. CUMMINGS: The -- you certainly speak for millions, and I think Chairman Issa did not understand why we wanted you to appear, because we were looking for someone to speak for women who want safe and affordable coverage for their basic preventative health care, including contraceptives.Now for the benefit of those who may not understand, can you describe your qualifications for testifying about the restrictions on insurance coverage for contraceptives?MS. FLUKE: Sure. I'm an American woman who uses contraception, so let's start there. That makes me qualified to talk to my elected officials about my health care needs.Beyond that, I will say that I, along with the other members of Law Students for Reproductive Justice at Georgetown and so many other of the activists who've been working on this, have been looking at this for years. We've followed the regulations very closely and the legislation, and we've done studies at our campus documenting the needs of women. So this is something we take very seriously, and we have studied for quite some time. (via Nexis)
Conservative media dismissed Fluke's testimony by discussing how cheap condoms are
Conservatives have attempted to dismiss Fluke by insisting that the low cost and easy access to condoms mitigates her testimony. But Fluke testified about the need for contraceptive medicine.
- Rush Limbaugh: "Miss Fluke, who bought your condoms in junior high? Who bought your condoms in the sixth grade?"
- On his Premiere Radio Networks show, Fox's Sean Hannity said, "I was in a CVS the other day and while I was waiting in line you can see row upon row of condoms of every sort and size imaginable. They're about 25 cents a piece! That's hardly unaffordable"
- On America Live, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley said, "Cry me a river. ... Cry me a river. Now the American people are supposed to be paying for somebody to have sex. ... Listen, the tuition is $63,000 total cost and you're telling me that they can't afford $3 for a condom?" and that "It's not a right under the Constitution to have sex"
- In National Review, Mark Steyn sarcastically claimed, "All of us are born with the unalienable right to life, liberty, and a lifetime supply of premium ribbed silky-smooth ultrasensitive spermicidal lubricant condoms."
- CNSNews.com's Craig Bannister wrote, "At a dollar a condom if [Fluke] shops at CVS pharmacy's website, that $3,000 would buy her 3,000 condoms - or, 1,000 a year."
- On Breitbart.com, Derek Hunter wrote, "The cost of a condom to the cost of the pill ranges between a dollar for one and about $30 per month (without insurance) for the other, nowhere near the $3,000 for three years Fluke claimed."
From Fluke's testimony:
You might respond that contraception is accessible in lots of other ways. Unfortunately, that's not true. Women's health clinics provide vital medical services, but as the Guttmacher Institute has documented, clinics are unable to meet the crushing demand for these services. Clinics are closing and women are being forced to go without. How can Congress consider the Fortenberry, Rubio, and Blunt legislation that would allow even more employers and institutions to refuse contraceptive coverage and then respond that the non-profit clinics should step up to take care of the resulting medical crisis, particularly when so many legislators are attempting to defund those very same clinics? These denials of contraceptive coverage impact real people. In the worst cases, women who need this medication for other medical reasons suffer dire consequences.
Conservative media figures could have debated the issues Fluke actually discussed and the situations she presented in her testimony. Instead they chose to invent testimony and rebut premises that never existed.