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Law Student Makes Case For Contraceptive Coverage

By Julie Rovner, NPR News

February 23rd, 2012, 5:55 PM

This story comes from our partner ‘s Shots blog.

Congress is in recess this week, but that didn’t stop House Democrats from holding a hearing to take testimony from a Georgetown law student who was barred from testifying in last week’s hearing about President Obama’s policy on contraceptives, health insurance and religiously affiliated organizations.

That hearing drew fire from supporters of the administration’s approach for featuring an all-male panel to start, followed in the afternoon by a second panel that included two women opposed to mandatory coverage of contraceptives by insurers.

Somewhat ironically, Sandra Fluke, who has become the poster child for the Democrats since she was not permitted to appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, would likely not be affected by the policy as a member of a student, rather than an employer-provided health insurance plan.

Even more ironic: Georgetown already offers contraceptive coverage as part of its employee health plans.

But none of that stopped her from giving the handful of Democrats present, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a rousing lawyer-like defense of why failing to cover contraceptives is unfair to women.

“Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school,” she said. “For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary.”

And the policy has hurt not just those who want the pill to prevent pregnancy, she said. One friend — a lesbian — needed oral contraception to control ovarian cysts.

But while the Georgetown plan includes a medical exception, her friend never got the medication. “Despite verification of her illness from her doctor, her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted birth control to prevent pregnancy,” she said.

She eventually stopped taking the medication when it became too expensive, grew a cyst “the size of a tennis ball,” and “had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary as a result,” Fluke testified.

And when others ask what she expected when she chose to attend a Jesuit university, Fluke replied that she and her fellow women law students:

“[R]efused to pick between a quality education and our health, and we resent that in the 21st century anyone thinks it’s acceptable to ask us to make this choice simply because we are women.”

The GOP presidential candidates, meanwhile, continued to tangle with the issue during their debate in Mesa, Ariz., Wednesday night.

The crowd booed when CNN moderator John King asked the candidates about their position on birth control, but all were willing to engage, though not on the exact question asked.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich turned the issue back on President Obama, accusing him of having voted, as a state senator in Illinois, for a bill to “protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortions.” The story is a lot more complicated, but a very similar claim, in fact, earned a “false” rating from the fact-checking websitePolitiFact in 2008.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, continued to hammer at the president’s policy on contraceptive coverage, which he correctly pointed out would include “birth control, sterilization, and the morning-after pill. Unbelievable,” Romney added.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who earlier said he would talk about the “dangers of contraception,” said in his opinion the problem is that too many children are being born into one parent families. “How can a country survive if children are being rasied in homes where it’s so much harder to succeed economically?”

Finally, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, an OB-GYN, said the problem isn’t really birth control at all. “The pill is there and, you know, it contributes maybe, but the pills can’t be blamed for the immorality of our society.”

3 Responses to “Law Student Makes Case For Contraceptive Coverage”

  1. Anita says:

    Womens Health is about “WOMEN”! Not men! Men have no business making any decisions about women’s health! Our ancestors escaped Europe for many reasons. One of those reasons was religious persecution. Now, that same church is trying to persecute women here in America. What ever happened to freedom and liberty? Isn’t that what the Tea Party keeps talking about? Doesn’t the Tea Party keep saying that we should reduce the power of the federal government? Why is the Tea Party trying to get between me and my doctor? Why is Rick Santorum, and the other GOP morons, trying to tell me what rules should apply in my bedroom and in my doctor’s office? Rick Santorum has no business in my bedroom and no business in my doctor’s office! The GOP will lose this issue! The GOP has no business imposing their beliefs on women.

  2. I was surprised to know that in a developed country like America, women are not entitled to make choices and the claims for contraception are denied by healthcare providers. In countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan almost all the modern contraceptive measures are provided by the governments with out any cost. Any one can walk in to a clinic and get free advice and medication. Although religious groups are against it but governments support women for their choices. American nation must unite against these religious fanatics.

  3. Art says:

    Anita and Anjum are totally missing the point in regards to conservatives. I don’t think anyone have said women can’t have birth control. The point is conservatives or regilious organizations should not have to pay for somethiong that goes against there believe. Please tell me where in the US constitution birth control is a right. The US is a country of rights not a government that controls by what the constitution doesn’t state.