Sandra Fluke is a third-year law student at Georgetown University Law Center
and has served as president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
Last month, students from several Catholic universities gathered to send a message to the nation that contraception is basic health care. I was among them, and I was proud to share the stories of my friends at Georgetown Law who have suffered dire medical consequences because our student insurance does not cover contraception for the purpose of preventing pregnancy…
I…joined these students because now is a critical time to raise this issue in our public consciousness.
Thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, preventive care services, including contraception, will be covered by private insurance plans without co-pays or deductibles. If appropriately implemented, this important law will finally guarantee women access to contraception, regardless of the religious affiliation of their workplace or school.
By now, many have heard the stories I wanted to share thanks to the congressional leaders and members of the media who have supported me and millions of women in speaking out.
Because we spoke so loudly, opponents of reproductive health access demonized and smeared me and others on the public airwaves. These smears are obvious attempts to distract from meaningful policy discussions and to silence women’s voices regarding their own health care.
These attempts to silence women and the men who support them have clearly failed. I know this because I have received so many messages of support from across the country — women and men speaking out because they agree that contraception needs to be treated as a basic health care service.
They are women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, who need contraception to prevent cysts from growing on their ovaries, which if unaddressed can lead to infertility and deadly ovarian cancer. They are sexual assault victims, who need contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
They are Catholic women, who see no conflict between their social justice -based faith and family planning. They are new moms, whose doctors fear that another pregnancy too soon could jeopardize the mother’s health and the potential child’s health too. They are mothers and grandmothers who remember all too well what it was like to be called names decades ago, when they were fighting for a job, for health care benefits, for equality…
Most recently, certain political commentators have started spreading misinformation about the underlying government regulation we are discussing. To be clear, through programs such as Medicaid, the government already does and should fund contraception coverage for the poorest women in our country.
But, despite the misinformation being spread, the regulation under discussion has absolutely nothing to do with government funding: It is all about the insurance policies provided by private employers and universities that are financed by individual workers, students and their families — not taxpayers.
I am talking about women who, despite paying their own premiums, cannot obtain coverage of contraception on their private insurance, even when their employer or university contributes nothing to that insurance…
Attacking me and women who use contraception by calling us prostitutes and worse cannot silence us.
I am proud to stand with the millions of women and men who recognize that our government should legislate according to the reality of our lives — not for ideology.
I know I speak to a larger audience, broader than the fire that burns in my heart for change, not as consumed by anger. I don’t expect everyone who wanders by these pages to come to the same radical conclusions I offer. It’s just that I’ve been at this a very long time. According to the FBI, 52 years. But, they missed some of the earliest days. 🙂
I refresh my studies as anyone dedicated to scientific methods should do and see little reason to adjust the direction of my political opinions. So, please, understand where I’m coming from, the accumulated contempt I hold for the cowards who attack women like Sandra, the craven opportunists who do their best to hold back the future of this nation. Sometimes I grow weary of attempting politeness to fools when my heart and history will not forget the mean streets I come from.
So, right on, sister Sandra! All power to the people!