Exclusive: Sandra Fluke talks to FOX31 about birth control battle
DENVER — Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student disparaged by Rush Limbaugh for arguing before Congress that women should have affordable access to birth control, spoke exclusively Friday to FOX31 Denver.
In town for an event to mark the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s landmark health care reform law that’s forced more health care providers to cover contraceptive care, Fluke spoke about her unlikely journey from campus advocate to national spokeswoman, almost overnight.
“Things have changed a little bit,” Fluke told FOX31 Denver, the only local television station to conduct a one-on-one interview with her.
“It’s been unusual. It’s not your typical February and March for me. There have been hard moments, obviously. I think every woman and everyone who’s seen some of the things that were said can understand there were times when that was hard.”
Last month, Fluke became a household name almost instantly after conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh referred to her as a “slut” because of her testimony before Congress in favor of birth control.
While Limbaugh has lost more than 100 sponsors in the controversy’s aftermath, his comments have brought America’s culture wars back to the fore, sparking what Fluke describes as an “awakening” of women across the country, startled to find out that their access to birth control was in jeopardy in the 21st century.
“I’ve received hundreds of messages of support from people across the country,” Fluke said. “Other women have reached out and shared more and more about the reasons why they need affordable access to contraception. Things like seizure disorders, where they need it to prevent seizures; or genetic conditions — just all kinds of medical reasons why women need this care.”
Fluke plans to start a website where she can post all those things as a way to continue to educate people about the importance of contraception.
When asked about comments by Limbaugh and others — Colorado state Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, echoed Limbaugh a week later and Tweeted that taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for a woman’s “birth control, Spring break or booze” — that portray birth control as an unnecessary, hedonistic luxury, Fluke frowned.
“It’s definitely quite upsetting and it’s disrespectful to women,” Fluke said. “It just conveys a level of ignorance, frankly.”
Ultimately, however, Fluke believes that such comments only underline the importance of more women following her lead and standing up for their reproductive rights.
“Especially given what I’ve been through lately, I respect women’s need to have privacy about these very personal topics.,” Fluke told FOX31 Denver. “But because we don’t talk about our reproductive health in this way, people don’t realize how many women have these types of medical conditions, these challenges, and need access to contraception.
“So what I say is: share with the people you care about that you care about this. Because then they’ll care too.”
Fluke, whose last name is pronounced “Flook” to rhyme with “look”, was invited to testify before Congress because of her on campus activism work on the issue of contraception care on campus as part of a group called “Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice”.
She told FOX31 Denver that she’s comfortable with her heightened profile, which is allowing her more of a megaphone for a message she’s been carrying for a while — a message she’s hoping will reach the next generation.
“I won’t say there won’t moments where I didn’t want to pull the covers over my head,” she said. “But what I thought about, actually, were young girls in our country. Because I was afraid that if what this controversy came to represent was that if a woman spoke out, this is what would be said about her and then she would go away — that’s not the lesson that young girls should take away from this.
“I didn’t want them to learn from this, well, I should just sit down and shut up,” Fluke continued. “I wanted them to see that this was unacceptable for a woman to be treated this way and that it would not happen again.”