Sandra Fluke, the target of radio personality Rush Limbaugh's derisive remarks, continues to be lied about by the religious right.
Fluke had testified about contraceptives in terms of health care, citing an example where a college friend lost an ovary because her Catholic college's health insurance plan did not cover contraceptives. Fluke, a third year student at Georgetown Law, a Jesuit school, testified how denial of contraceptives is a woman's reproductive health issue. Not once did she advocate it for purposes of sexual promiscuity. Not once did she complain that she needed free contraceptives for her supposed sexually-promiscuous lifestyle, as alleged by the religious right. Anyone with Internet access can watch a video of her testimony given on February 23 before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. Her testimony was given after she was blocked from testifying at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee the previous week on the 2010 health care law regulation requiring employers and insurers provide contraception coverage to their employees. The testimony is embedded below, and a written version is available at Little Green Footballs .
But the religious right continuous to characterize the testimony as the promotion of promiscuity. Either they are deliberately lying or haven't bothered to read or listen to the testimony.
In defending Rush Limbaugh's remarks and raising valid points about some of the ugly and hateful remarks made by liberals about the death of Andrew Breitbart and about Limbaugh, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association went on to say about sluts and Sandra Fluke (@ 6:58):
My point about Sandra Fluke is she outed herself. I mean, she's the one that confessed to the entire nation that this is the kind of behavior that she engages in. [...] The scandal is that in the United States of America, a young woman — a young single woman — would be able to go before the entire nation and admit to God, United States Congress, United States of America and everybody that she was having so much promiscuous activity that it was driving her to the poorhouse, to be able to do that with no shame and them be treated as a heroine in the process.
Fischer completely ignored the health concerns raised by Fluke with respect to insurance that was being paid for by her fellow students, choosing instead to say that she was "outing" herself. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, appeared on MSNBC's Martin Bashir show, and also misstated Fluke's testimony:
BASHIR: Mr. Perkins, I found this whole controversy extremely disturbing and it seems almost impossible to find a Republican who unequivocally, without conditions, condemns what's been said. Now you're a family man, you're a committed Christian, you play an important role in conservative politics, will you, for the benefit of our broadcast, clearly and categorically denounce what Rush Limbaugh said?
PERKINS: Well, Martin, first let me say, I disagree that there — Because there's a double standard that somehow defends what was said. I do think there's a double standard but that doesn't defend attacking an individual. I think we need to engage in civic, or civil, discussion. I don't think there's any room in this process for calling people derogatory names. I think what Rush Limbaugh did, by calling this young woman — regardless of her political views, regardless of what she was advocating for — calling her derogatory names. I disagree with her position. I think what she said was off base. What she was advocating for was off base, but I think Rush Limbaugh was wrong in calling her what he did.
BASHIR: And you have children yourself?
PERKINS: I do. I have five children.
BASHIR: Do you have a daughter?
PERKINS: I have three daughters.
BASHIR: How would you feel, if your daughter was referred to in that way?
PERKINS: Well, let me … I would not have appreciated it. I probably would have paid the man a visit, but here, let me say this as well …
BASHIR: I'm happy to hear that because I would have done the same.
PERKINS: But my daughter would not have been standing before a Congressional committee talking about sexual promiscuity and the fact that the government should somehow fund …
BASHIR: She wasn't talking about sexual promiscuity. She was talking about a dear friend of hers who has a very serious illness.
PERKINS: That was one aspect of it, which is covered, by the way.
BASHIR: Okay. On the specific issue of contraception, Rick Santorum has said, and I'm quoting him, that it's not right for Christians to use contraception.
PERKINS: That's a theological position that he …
BASHIR: I want to ask, sure — Is that your view and is it your view that there is a biblical precedent for Christians not to use contraception?
PERKINS: I don't think so. Now I wouldn't … You would say I'm kind of a … I'm probably more Catholic than any Baptist, I have five kids so obviously I don't embrace the whole idea of contraception. Look, that is a view that some people have. There is arguments that can be made about how contraception into our society has changed our view of children and intimate relationships between husbands and wives. Is it a policy position that he has? No. Is it one that I would advocate for? No. That's something that I think husbands and wives have a right to make a decision on in and of themselves. This conversation about contraceptives was really not an issue of contraception. It was an issue of religious freedom and religious organizations being forced to fund it.
BASHIR: Well, you say that sir, and yet, when Mr. Santorum talks about the issue, he does repeatedly say, it is not right for Christians to use contraception. Contraception is wrong. And he appears to associate every social problem and link it back in some way to a permissive society that was born as a result of contraception. Now, I'm asking, do you share that view?
PERKINS: I do think you can look at the social studies and you can see whether that — I don't think that's the single factor, it's one of many factors that came onto the scene socially that has changed our society but again, let me go back to what he said, and I have not heard every word that he spoke [...] he does have a personal view about contraception as do many religious Americans. That's not the same as having a policy position. He's made his policy position very clear.
BASHIR: Can you understand why many people in the country feel as though there is a conservative stroke, Republican attack on women? We've had the issue of contraception discussed repeatedly. We've had Rush Limbaugh, who for some people is the de facto spokesman of the Republican party, saying what he said, which was deeply offensive. We've had Senator Blunt doing what he was doing, Bob McDonnell, proposing and then withdrawing a transvaginal probe. Can you understand why many women today feel as though many Republicans don't like them?
PERKINS: Well actually, if you look at the support that Senator …
BASHIR: But link to what I just said, sir.
PERKINS: No, I'm going to answer your question. As you look at Senator Santorum, as he's running for president, is drawing a lot of support from females. The female voter is moving toward him. It's not an attack on females. It's what the Democratic party, liberals, and even some in the media have tried to make this an issue of women. It's an issue of — Contraception, that was an issue of religious freedom. The issue in Virginia that made reference to Bob McDonnell, that was an issue of protecting women, giving them the opportunity of seeing their unborn child before they choose an abortion. Other states have adopted the same procedures in allowing women to see the sonogram pictures of their child before they choose an abortion.
BASHIR: Shouldn't you and others, though, defer to a woman individually? It is her body, she has autonomy and control and responsibility.
PERKINS: Shouldn't she have all the facts, shouldn't she have …
BASHIR: Nobody's disputing that, if she chooses to have them. But is it really appropriate to force in a mandatory fashion these kinds of things upon people?
PERKINS: Giving them all of the information, when you have a woman who is in a crisis situation, oftentimes having been exploited, who is in a desperate situation — to keep her from making a second mistake of choosing to abort what she doesn't even realize in many cases is a child within her because of the propaganda that's been put out there by Planned Parenthood and others — these are laws that have been passed by I believe 17 states now that simply say look, out of the desire to give women all of the information, let them see the sonogram — which by the way, Planned Parenthood takes sonograms pictures to evaluate the size of the baby so they know how much to charge for the abortion. We're just saying, let them see that picture.
BASHIR: Just a final question, do you accept this view that many people have that Rick Santorum condemns contraception, and yet he also condemns abortion. Doesn't using contraception prevent the necessity of a termination?
PERKINS: Look, again, what he is talking about is his personal views between a husband and a wife, and what he believes …
BASHIR: When he speaks, he appears to be speaking for others, as well.
PERKINS: No. I mean, if you go back, you can clearly dissect what he's saying in terms of applying it to public policy. The issue, let's go back to the real heart of the issue, is where should sexual behavior be taking place? That's what was behind the abstinence message is that look, it's better for young people to abstain from sex until marriage, and we've actually seen, the studies show that a young girl, the more she engages in sexual relations before marriage, if she marries, the percentages of the risk of her having a divorce go up with every sexual encounter. That information should be shared with our young people so they know how to make the right choices.