Unless you’ve been off-planet for a week, you’re already familiar with the current hoo-hah over the Rush Limbaugh’s labeling a Georgetown Law School student a “slut” and a “prostitute” for advocating health insurance coverage for contraception and saying that she should pay for the coverage by putting videos of her having sex on line. But as The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart points out in this clip, Rush isn’t alone in equating such coverage with paying women to have sex.
A few more quick points:
- If you listen to more of what Rush Limbaugh said (not that I’m recommending you subject yourself to that) you’ll discover that he weirdly claimed Sandra Fluke needed spend a lot for birth control pills because she was having an incredible amount of sex. Really. If I hadn’t heard a clip of him saying it, I wouldn’t have believed a man married that many times would be so clueless about The Pill.
- A number of other misunderstandings about contraception have come up lately. I’ve heard it said that birth control pills are so cheap there’s no need for insurance coverage. Some generic pills are indeed cheap, but those pills aren’t suited to all women, and others benefit from other forms of birth control that may have a large up-front costs. It’s also common to hear that taxpayers are hit up for the cost of coverage. It’s more often individuals, their employers, or their health insurance companies. Of course, as Jon Stewart mentions in passing, since birth control reduces unplanned pregnancies (that being, after all, the whole point) and pregnancies cost health insurers money, there is probably a small net saving to the insurer in covering birth control.
- A number of people have brought up the fact that liberal TV and radio personality Ed Schultz once used the expression “right-wing slut” on the air. That’s true. But Schultz’s insult was made in the course of a single heated rant, not calmly repeated and expanded upon over the course of several days as was the case with Limbaugh. Schultz apologized later the same day (and had repeated the apology several times since), and his program was taken off the air for a week. Limbaugh eventually offered a half-apology, but only when he started losing sponsors, and his network did not suspend him.
- One might suppose that since Georgetown University, whose law school Sandra Fluke attends, is run by the Roman Catholic Jesuit order, and since the Catholic Church opposes any form of contraception other than abstention, it’s not surprising that the institution’s health plans don’t cover contraception. But health insurance available to faculty and staff (as opposed to students like Fluke) in fact do provide contraception (and abortion) coverage.
- Finally, it’s been suggested that it’s a violation of religious liberty to require insurance policies for employees of Catholic-run institutions of any type to pay for birth control. But the rule will apply only to non-religious institutions like hospitals, not religious institutions like the churches themselves. In addition, doesn’t the religious liberty of the employee enter into it? If I worked for a company owned by a Jehovah’s Witness, should that company be able to provide me health insurance without coverage for blood transfusions?