Rush to Judgment

I have to admit that I was fooled by the recent brouhaha over the testimony of Sandra Fluke, the former law student at Georgetown University for argues for funding of contraceptives. From a quick reading, it seemed that she was complaining that it cost -- like, $3000! -- to keep her sex life complication-free. The media had a field day, focusing on the angle of a sexy coed not only ravenous for non-stop, consequence-free sex, but expecting the taxpayer to foot the bill.

And then came Rush Limbaugh, suggesting that Fluke was a slut and a whore, and asking her (in fairness to the taxpayers' largess) to post videos of her encounters.

But Fluke's actual testimony paints a far different picture.

Fluke's complaints were about fellow GU students with actual, serious medical conditions, who controlled their  symptoms with birth control pills. Problem is, Georgetown is a Catholic University, and they don't cover the Pill, lest it clash with their consciences. But GU would allow their charges to get the Pill if it was for a valid medical condition. So, Fluke's friends had to endure a gauntlet of personal doctors, college administrators, pharmacists and insurance officials -- just to be allowed to obtain medicine.


In the case of one woman, the Pill controlled the growth of ovarian cysts. She was turned down for coverage, and went without medication because she could not afford it. Consequently, she developed a large, tennis-ball-sized cyst, endured horrific pain, and ended up having her ovary removed. As a result, she is now at risk, at age 32, for starting menopause and losing her chance to have children.

The other woman took the Pill to control painful endometriosis. But though doctors believed she had the condition, her condition was unprovable without invasive surgery. She had to choose between costly and painful surgery, and doing without her medication.

All so a few Jesuits could sleep better at night, in the realization that their ecclesiastical careers were safe.

Fluke argued courageously against a still-extant patriarchal system that treats women as the wards of males or of male-dominated institutions. Her plea is to put control of a woman's body into her own hands, and out of the hands of those -- politicians, clerics and media stars -- with anti-woman agendas.

Imagine if before they could get insulin, diabetics had to prove -- to the satisfaction of their congressman or priest -- that they had a real disease, and were not just hoping to pig out on Pop Tarts. Imagine if before getting a prescription for Viagra, a 60-year-old man had to show a marriage license and prove that he intended to engage in heterosexual, spouses-only sexual activity that was open to procreation.

The parallel holds for birth control. Decisions about which medications to provide citizens should not be subject to the whims of those who do not have the interests of those citizens at heart.

That goes for priests and politicians. And it goes twice for vicious, ratings-happy, hypocritical radio hosts.