Georgetown should provide students with greater access to contraceptives, Sandra Fluke (LAW ’12), a reproductive justice advocate, said at an address in Healy Hall yesterday.
The university’s insurance plan for students currently covers students’ access to contraception, though the student health center does not provide contraceptives for non-medical purposes. According to Fluke, the university should not prevent students from accessing a resource that they pay for.
“The university is putting restrictions on what your insurance can cover, even though they don’t even pay for it,” Fluke said.
Fluke has advocated for students’ reproductive coverage in various capacities as a student and an alumna, most notably appearing before Democratic Congressional representatives in February 2012 to advocate for increased student contraceptive coverage.
After the appearance, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut” and criticized her promotion of birth control coverage. Fluke said she could have argued against Limbaugh’s comment, but decided not to do so in order to defend all women.
“It doesn’t matter who you’ve been with or how long you’ve been with a person, you don’t get to be called a slut in the public press because you talked about birth control policy,” Fluke said. “We wanted to make sure that we were standing up for all women, no matter their circumstances, rather than litigating this about my own personal life, because it’s not relevant.”
The event, the first in H*yas for Choice’s annual Choice Week, was co-sponsored by Lecture Fund, Georgetown University College Democrats, feminist advocacy group United Feminists and the Georgetown University Student Association.
According to Fluke, reproductive justice encompasses not only legal barriers, but also economic barriers.
“That means that our reproductive health issues are addressed, so that there is not some sort of challenge that means that we’re not able to have children physically, that there are not legal barriers saying that since you’re a gay couple you are not allowed to, that there are not economic barriers so that you cannot afford to have an abortion,” Fluke said.
Fluke said reproductive health is an issue that affects people from a diverse array of backgrounds.
“We tried to use a reproductive justice framework as we made those decisions. One of the reasons that I believe in and I am so committed to the reproductive justice framework is because it actually allows us to broaden our tent and bring more people into the movement,” Fluke said.
Fluke said she aims to apply the concept of intersectionality to bring the interests of groups such as Latinas for Reproductive Justice and Black Women for Wellness into the discussion of reproductive rights.
“I also try to think about who is playing the role of the spokesperson in various settings, and we need to make sure it’s not all white wealthy women who are the ones who are in the press, because that is the perception that a lot of America has,” Fluke said.
Fluke said the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s health care legislation that protects women’s access to birth control, is the best path to providing effective health care for women. On Friday, the Republican Party failed in its attempt to repeal and replace the ACA with a new health care program that would have no longer guaranteed access to birth control.
“What I am certain of is that we are very much under a threat of legislation through Congress signed by the president that would expand on the concept of religious liberty for a whole host of things, and that would cover things like insurance for reproductive health care,” Fluke said. “The best path forward is through the ACA.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the university’s insurance plan does not cover contraceptives.