Rush Limbaugh has stirred up a hornet’s nest with inappropriate comments directed at Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke (although he has apologized).
Sandra Fluke had testified in February on reproductive health care in a special hearing arranged by Democrats after Republicans denied her a chance to speak on the matter before the House. She spoke of how she and other students must pay for contraception out of their own pocket, as Georgetown does not include this in the university’s health care program. Fluke said that because this can get expensive, one of her fellow students who had been taking contraceptives to counteract the growth of an ovarian tumor had to stop the medication. This allowed the tumor to attain the size of a tennis ball, necessitating surgical removal.
It is not clear if Limbaugh took offense at Fluke’s testimony for whatever reason, but his response to her statements took the form of what most saw as a personal attack, calling her insulting and degrading names on his radio show, because according to him she “essentially says that she must be paid” to have sexual relations. He went on to say that, “I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress.” He added that, “It is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a presidential level.” President Obama apparently felt otherwise, as in response to these statements he called Fluke to thank her for “exercising her right as a citizen to speak out,” and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called Limbaugh’s statements “reprehensible and inappropriate.”
Limbaugh’s remarks touched off a landslide of angry responses, including one from House Speaker John Boehner, who through his spokesman condemned the radio host’s words. Georgetown University president John J. DeGioia followed suit, expressing in a lengthy statement that, “One need not agree with (Fluke’s) substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression.” He added that Limbaugh’s reaction, along with those of some others toward Fluke was “misogynistic” and “vitriolic.”