Friday, March 2, 2012

Republicans Turning Back The Clock

The Blunt Amendment is a Republican sponsored Senate amendment to the President’s Affordable Health Care Act that would allow ANY employer to opt out of providing its employees with ANY particular health care provision that it finds morally objectionable.  Mammograms, PAP smears, MRIs, chemotherapy…contraceptives… could all be rejected by ANY employer citing a moral objection to their implementation.  Yesterday, the amendment was defeated in the Senate 51-48 with only one Republican voting against the bill.
Sandra Fluke is a Georgetown University law student and a women’s reproductive rights activist.  Ms. Fluke was asked to testify before an un-official congressional committee on women’s health care chaired by the Democratic Party.  Her request to address the official congressional committee on women’s health care, chaired by the Republican Party, was denied.  They chose to go with an all male panel. 
Ms. Fluke testified as to the financial burden that affects students and low income women who have to pay for contraceptives out of their own pockets.  She also noted that 15% of all women who take contraceptives do so for purposes other than to avoid getting pregnant. She closed by saying that she believed that a decisions about a woman’s health care should be between the woman and her doctor; not the woman and her employer. 
Rush Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host and a powerful spokesperson for the Republican Party.  His show is aired by over 600 radio stations is heard by 20 million listeners weekly.  Republican politicians who dare to publically disagree with Mr. Limbaugh often find themselves publically apologizing to him the next day.
Upon hearing about Ms. Fluke’s testimony; Mr. Limbaugh had this to say: 
“What does it say about the college co-ed, Susan (Sic) Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex—what does that make her?  It makes her a slut, right?  It makes her a prostitute.  She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception.  She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay for her to have sex.  What does that make us?  We’re the pimps.”
After hearing a barrage of criticism for his comments from Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders; Limbaugh did not retreat but attacked Ms. Fluke once again the next day:
“If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it.  We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
Seventy five Democratic congressmen signed a letter urging Speaker Boehner to publically denounce Limbaugh’s comments.
As we write this, not one Republican legislator has spoken out against Limbaugh.
It seems absurd that at a time when so many people are out of work, our economy is struggling and our education system and infrastructure are crumbling that we are debating issues that were decided a half century ago.  What’s next?  Should we re-examine the issue of a women’s right to vote or re-think the whole concept of owning slaves?  And keep in mind that this debate that we are having is about contraception…not abortion…but contraception…a health care procedure practiced by 98% of American women including 98% of Catholic women.
Rush Limbaugh certainly has the right to express his views on contraception.  But he also has the responsibility as an acknowledged spokes person for the Republican Party to do so in a civilized manner.  The vitriol expressed by Mr. Limbaugh has no place in our political discourse.
Mr. Limbaugh is a very powerful voice for the conservative movement.  Millions of Americans use his commentary to form their opinions.  But regardless of Mr. Limbaugh’s popularity and power he does not right to defame another citizen.  Even if he is a racist, prejudiced, perverted, homophobic little man who was rejected by his mother and compensates by attacking others who frighten him.
Mr. Limbaugh is paid a fortune for uttering his vitriolic nonsense.  Perhaps Ms. Fluke will find a good lawyer to tap into those funds.  Then Mr. Limbaugh really WILL be paying for Ms. Fluke’s contraceptives.             

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