The social issues debate re-ignited on Capitol Hill today when senators killed a proposal to throw out President Obama’s contraception mandate.
Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh was thrust into the center of the debate after he called the woman who was denied the right to speak on the controversial all-male conception panel at a hearing last month a “slut” on his show Wednesday.
The issue heated up more today when Limbaugh took his comments even further, reports ABC News.
The conservative radio host’s remarks sparked an angry backlash from House Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. But instead of heeding their requests for an apology, Limbaugh doubled down against what he called the “conniption fit” of the House Democrats.
Channeling Foster Friess, a main financial backer of former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Limbaugh said that he would “happily buy [Sandra Fluke] all the aspirin she wants” to put between her knees in lieu of contraception. He then expanded his offer to the whole university.
“A Georgetown coed told Nancy Pelosi’s hearing that the women in her law school program are having so much sex they’re going broke, so you and I should have to pay for their birth control. So what would you call that? I called it what it is,” he said.
“So, I’m offering a compromise today: I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want,” he added.
Limbaugh was referencing the comment Friess made in February when he said the “gals” in “his day” put aspirin between their legs in lieu of contraception.
Fluke’s testimony in the hearing was not, as Limbaugh claimed, about the fact that she’s “having so much sex she’s going broke buying contraceptives.”
She told the story of her friend who had an ovary removed because the insurance company wouldn’t cover the prescription birth control she needed to stop the growth of ovarian cysts, tells The Huff Post.
Sandra Fluke, a third-year student at Georgetown University Law School, was barred from testifying by Rep. Darrell Issa, the committee chair at the faith-based hearing on Capitol Hill, because he deemed her unqualified. Issa said the panel was supposed to focus on religious freedom and Fluke is not a member of any clergy.
She eventually spoke to a Democratic hearing spearheaded by Pelosi on Feb. 23, where she talked about the need for birth control coverage. Fluke spoke of one friend in particular who needed contraception to prevent ovarian cysts.
Fluke testified that without insurance coverage, contraception can cost a woman as much as $3,000 during law school.
“Three thousand dollars for birth control in three years? That’s a thousand dollars a year of sex — and, she wants us to pay for it,” Limbaugh said, adding that high school boys applying to college should consider Georgetown. “They’re admitting before congressional committee that they’re having so much sex they can’t afford the birth control pills!”
Limbaugh concluded his sexist rant by insisting that if women want their contraception covered, they should post pornographic videos of themselves online.
“So Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal,” he said. “If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has raised a significant amount of money and gained support in the wake of the recent battles over birth control, circulated a petition on Thursday to ask Republican leaders to denounce Limbaugh’s tirade.
“Rush Limbaugh has come to Republicans’ defense in their war on women,” said Jesse Ferguson, a spokesperson for the DCCC, “but now the real question is whether Republicans are willing to stand up to him and his repulsive attacks on women.”
More than 75 Democratic House Members signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday urging him to condemn Limbaugh’s remarks.
“On his February 29, 2012 show, Mr. Limbaugh repeatedly used sexually charged, patently offensive, and obscene language to malign the character of this courageous young woman who has chosen to be the voice for many of her peers,” the letter says.
“This kind of direct attack on a private citizen is unacceptable. Mr. Limbaugh is as free as any American to speak his mind about the political and social issues of our time, but using his radio show as a means for blatantly insulting a hard-working American with obscene and indecent language because he disagrees with her personal choices is an abuse of the public airwaves,” it says.
For her part, Fluke released a statement thanking those who went to bat on her behalf and condemning the remarks, though she did not call out anyone by name.
“I thank the thousands of women and men, including members of Congress, Georgetown University students and faculty, and total strangers of all political stripes across the country who have offered kind words and support following recent egregious personal attacks,” she said in the statement.
She continued: “We are fortunate to live in a democracy where everyone is entitled to their own opinions regarding legitimate policy differences. Unfortunately, numerous commentators have gone far beyond the acceptable bounds of civil discourse.”
“No woman deserves to be disrespected in this manner. This language is an attack on all women, and has been used throughout history to silence our voices. The millions of American women who have and will continue to speak out in support of women’s health care and access to contraception prove that we will not be silenced,” Fluke added.