Last week, on his very popular radio show, Rush Limbaugh targeted Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke after she publicly advocated insurance coverage of contraception at a Democratic committee hearing. During his misogynistic rant, Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut,” and continued to insinuate that she and her female classmates could not afford contraception because they were having “so much sex.”
As a full-scope midwife, I write quite a few prescriptions for oral contraception every week. Let’s review the patient population whom Limbaugh considers to be “sluts.” Just last week, I saw a 31-year-old postpartum patient seeking birth control, because she and her husband wished to wait a few years before having another child. Another was a 22-year-old virgin, who wanted to start birth control before her upcoming nuptials. A third patient, a 16-year-old with menorrhagia, also a virgin, came into the office with her mother to request combined oral contraceptives to help regulate her periods.
Ignoring the fact that many women who take birth control pills are married, monogamous and even abstinent is the first in a series of flaws in Limbaugh’s logic. Another fact he seems to have missed is that the same dose of hormone is necessary to confer the many benefits of birth control pills, some of which are non-contraceptive, regardless of how much or how little sex a woman has.
The analogy that Limbaugh insinuated when he called Ms. Fluke a “prostitute” – that women who want insurance companies to cover contraception are asking to be paid for sex – is ludicrous. We are fighting for the right for basic health-care coverage, which to me is no different than asking insurance companies to pay for allergy medication.
Although representatives on both sides of the political fence have admonished Limbaugh after his most recent vitriol, it seems hallow in the wake of so many recent political attacks on women’s health care. Limbaugh, the man whom some call the spokesperson of the Republican Party, has since made an attempt at publicly apologizing to Sandra Fluke, but it sounded insincere and seemed motivated by commercial sponsors who stopped backing the show rather than true regret.
In 2012, using birth control should not be justification for publically demeaning women. Thank goodness for Sandra Fluke and those like her, who refuse to be silenced by antiquated insults intended to shame women from speaking up for themselves.
Robyn Carlisle, MSN, CNM, WHNP, works as a full-scope midwife at University Doctors and Kennedy University Hospital in Sewell, N.J.
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