Elisabeth Smith, Resident Blogger (’14, University of Washington School of Law)
On Saturday night, Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart debated each other in “The Rumble 2012.” Bill’s opening statement concluded as follows: “The poster person for the entitlement society is Sandra Fluke. Do you know Sandra? I left two tickets for Sandra plus a month’s supply of birth control pills at will call. Is she here tonight? Sandra, buy your own. Coupon. We shouldn’t be paying for this or a lot of other stuff.” He also held up a sign reading “Buy. Your. Own.”
This talking point is old. Rush Limbaugh first called Ms. Fluke a slut on February 29, 2012. Since then, she’s graduated from Georgetown Law (where she was the GULC LSRJ President), spoken at the DNC, and campaigned for President Obama.
Let’s remember what she said to Congress though. Sandra Fluke testified about the need for her insurance plan to cover contraceptives. Not once did she ask for you, or me, or anyone else to pay for birth control. In fact, she didn’t even talk about her own need for contraceptives, but rather her friends who couldn’t afford it, including one with polycystic ovarian syndrome who needs to take birth control to stops cysts from growing on her ovaries.
How did these women’s medical decisions morph into a stubborn story of insatiable sexual appetite and demands for free birth control? AND, p.s., who cares if someone has an insatiable sexual appetite?! Frankly, sex-shaming is obvious and tired. Why won’t this story die? Why can’t Bill O’Reilly get his facts right? Why does he keep retelling his version of Ms. Fluke’s testimony?
I don’t know. I really don’t. But the image of Bill O’Reilly, deliberately, patronizingly, slowly scolding Ms. Fluke from afar “Buy. Your. Own” while holding a three word sign makes me apoplectic. She spoke honestly and compassionately about the religiously-imposed limitations of her health insurance plan and the resulting effects on specific individuals.
So, Bill, stop talking about Ms. Fluke. Stop using her name as an applause line. Stop with the authoritative, demeaning tone. And, while you’re at it, check out this study. It turns out free birth control is actually a pretty great thing.