Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Limbaugh Slander

The Limbaugh insults have been followed by advertisers leaving Limbaugh and pundits commenting on the slurs against Ms. Fluke.

While the slander has been the ostensible reason for advertisers dropping Limbaugh’s show, I’m bothered by the fact that the size of the lies has been ignored by punditry.
Yes, he called Fluke a slut and a prostitute and demanded that she make sex tapes and upload them to titillate the right wing taxpayers. That’s outrageous. But no less outrageous is the misrepresentation of Fluke’s testimony by Limbaugh, O’Really and the rest of the Right Wing Noise machine.

She did not go to the Democratic forum to demand that taxpayers pay for her contraception. She went to testify that her Roman Catholic law school refused to include birth control in her insurance program –the insurance program that covers Georgetown U students, faculty and staff. She testified not only that she could not get insurance coverage for her needed and desired medical treatment to prevent pregnancy, but that the medication was also denied to a fellow law school student who needed oral contraceptives to prevent ovarian cysts.

Graduate students, particularly in high profile professional schools, bear a heavy financial burden. They are expected to be in school full time, pay high tuition and have little way to earn any cash. Graduate students in other departments can earn small amounts by being Teaching and Graduate Assistants. Can law school students work for the law school? I don’t know. There are no undergraduates to instruct. But there may be other ways that Law Schools help their students make ends meet.

Still, the pay is low and barely making ends meet in Grad school has been a time honored tradition. In earlier generations those in professional schools made it by having a working spouse – but that was back in the era in which the majority of those in Med School, Law School and Seminary were male and married. Then the biggest worry for the family was an unplanned pregnancy that would force the “man of the house” to have to find part time work.

Today better than half of the seminarians in our ELCA are female. I’m guessing that the same is true for most of our mainstream Christian seminaries. According to a 2009 report at UC Davis, women outnumber men in Law School, Medical School and Veterinary Medicine. There are all kinds of implications for this, including delay in age of marriage, which is a general trend in Western society.

Thus is it not unreasonable to expect that your graduate school health insurance include contraceptives. Short on money, long on expenses, this is basic medical care. The decisions about our medical care should be made between us and our doctors, not between us, our doctors and legislators – or the leadership of a church to which we don’t belong.

As I understand it, that was Ms Fluke’s position. It seems rather reasonable to me. It has been misrepresentation by the right wing. That is at least as much of a problem as the easily decried ad-hominem. Yet none of the pundits have chosen to even mention that – except, of course, for Rachel Maddow. Her reporting on this story has been outstanding.

If you are Roman Catholic and wish to follow the traditional methods of birth control, by all means do it. But why should you be allowed to impose your moral tradition on those who make other moral judgments about their sexuality or their family planning? Why should you be allowed to deny needed insurance coverage for those who need this medication for reasons that surly don't offend your moral sensibilities?

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