If some of our readers of Catholic Journal have the impression that the world has turned upside down, then events of this past week will do nothing to change their thinking. I am referring specifically to the testimony of Sandra Fluke before a “special” congressional panel headed by Nancy Pelosi and the dustup that followed after Rush Limbaugh characterized Ms. Fluke as a “slut” and a “prostitute,” word choices for which he has since apologized. Letʼs look at the background of this brouhaha, because there is much in the press that has been missing.
To begin, the Democrats are purposely pushing the notion that Republicans want to deny women contraception. In a February 21 article in the Washington Post, columnist Greg Sargent quotes an aide to a Democrat lawmaker: “Women members are going to have a regular opportunity to go to the floor and talk about womenʼs health.” Sargent adds, “Democrats are hoping to use this fight to relitigate [sic] health care reform on turf more favorable to them, by casting this battle as one over birth control and womenʼs health–and be arguing that the GOP sees both as lesser priorities than catering to hidebound cultural values right out of the 1950s.” So letʼs not pretend that the actions of the Democrats are anything but premeditated.
Next, the “trigger” for the Sandra Fluke episode was a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called and chaired by Republican Congressman Darrell Issa. The purpose of the committee was to garner information from clergy of various denominations as to the effects the HHS contraception mandate would have on their ability to fulfill their doctrinal obligations and the obvious gutting of a First Amendment right. It was not the purpose to debate the merits of contraception as a right that should be provided gratis to all women by insurance companies. But when the first five witnesses who represented five different religious organizations happened to be all men, female Democrats cried foul. They wanted Sandra Fluke to be able to testify. But Issa declared that she was ineligible because she was a student at Georgetown and not a member of the clergy.
The next day female Democrats continued to criticize the committee. Nancy Pelosi wanted to know why there were no women called as witnesses. As it turned out, two women did testify in the afternoon session. One was Allison Garrett, of Oklahoma Christian University, and the other was Dr. Laura Champion, of Calvin College. Democrat Representative Carolyn Maloney accused Issa of trying to “roll back the fundamental rights of women to a time when the government thought what happens in the bedroom is their business” and added, “We will not be forced back to that primitive era.” Democrat Senator Patty Murray said, “Reading the news this morning was like stepping into a time machine and going back 50 years.” She then added, “There is nothing new about these Republican attacks on our family planning decisions. In fact, from the moment they came into power, Republicans in the House of Representatives have been waging a war on womenʼs health.” Other Democratic women went to the Senate floor to protest the “assault on women.” Democrat Senator Jeanne Shaheen said, “Iʼm saddened that here we are in 2012 and a House committee would hold a hearing on womenʼs health and deny women the ability to share their perspective.” Again, keep in mind that the hearing was not about womenʼs health, but the Democrats had their template and were running with it.
Enter Pelosi. The House minority leader called her own “special” committee meeting the following day. It was “special” because it was not a real committee. It was simply thrown together to give Ms. Fluke a chance to give her speech, which was a whiney screed about how her sex life is so expensive because Georgetownʼs insurance does not provide contraceptives. How expensive? Would you believe $1000 per year? One wonders how this is possible. Letʼs assume that she was not talking about condoms, for condoms are free in many places in D.C. But even if she had to turn to Planned Parenthood, a dozen condoms cost only $4.00, so if she had sex 12 times a month, that would add up to $144 per year. Then how about the Pill? Again, Planned Parenthood offers a monthly supply for $30, which comes to $360 for an entire year. Even the patch, at $50 per month, would only come to $600 per annum. Any rational person would have to question her numbers, but being rational here was not part of the game plan. The rest of her “testimony” was peppered with unconfirmed statistics and anecdotes, all designed to give at least two impressions: First, a large percentage of the women at Georgetown have suffered “financial, emotional, and medical burdens because of this lack of contraceptive coverage,” in the words of Ms. Fluke. Second, the Georgetown position is irrational, anti-woman, and probably deadly.
As the great philosopher Bob Dylan once said, “You donʼt need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” Ms. Flukeʼs speech said nothing about Georgetownʼs First Amendment rights, but her position is rather clear: Her “right” to free contraceptives trumps any religious rights Georgetown might claim. And as for the taxpayers who are expected to pay for Ms. Flukeʼs “social” activities, well, theyʼll just have to pony up.
It is also important to understand that the thirty-year-old Ms. Fluke is not some random law school student who was asked to testify before Pelosiʼs fake committee. She is an experienced activist who was a past president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice. This leftist organization is as radical as they come. What are its beliefs? Well, for one, all governments should provide free health care for all people, especially women. Of course, “health care” means, among other things, access to contraceptives. Also, abortion must be legal and available to all women. Conscience clauses, under which individuals can refuse to provide certain contraceptive or abortion services on moral or religious grounds, should not be permitted. Further, all crisis pregnancy centers use “false and misleading tactics and information” when it comes to abortion. In addition, U.S. judges should turn to international and foreign law to make their decisions. And, finally, laws against same-sex marriage should be abolished. Thereʼs more, but I think you get the picture.
It is crucial for those who value the Constitution to see through the lies and subterfuge being perpetrated by the Democrats. The HHS mandate is a clear violation of the First Amendment, specifically the freedom of religion. The Catholic Church is the prime target, but, thankfully, other denominations can see where this will lead if it is not stopped now. What can be done? Easy. Defeat President Obama and as many Democrats as possible this fall. And then make sure that the Republicans live up to their promises. The country you save will be your own.