VINSON: Birth Control Debate Raises Important Questions

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In February, Sandra Fluke, a 30-year-old law student at Georgetown Law School, appeared before a congressional hearing in an attempt to argue in favor of university insurance coverage paying for women’s contraceptives.

Though she initially was denied the right to speak at the hearing, she eventually was allowed to voice her opinions about birth control insurance coverage.

A few days later, shock-jock Rush Limbaugh, via his nationally syndicated radio show, bashed Fluke, calling her a “slut” and “prostitute,” even saying she should post online her sexual encounters if taxpayers were going to have to foot the bill for her contraceptives.

Granted, Limbaugh is no stranger to controversy.

Rather, controversy is his game, the very means by which he has carved out for himself a niche in the world of media and radio.

However, this time, Limbaugh might have gone too far because many high-paying sponsors have dropped his once-popular radio show.

Actually, nothing extraordinary is taking place in the Limbaugh controversy.

Limbaugh makes a good living attacking whomever about whatever. Fluke, by all appearances, is just a female student who, maybe, enjoys having sex from time to time, and she doesn’t want to get pregnant at this juncture in her life.

Further, at stake here is not Fluke’s sex life.

Instead, what is at stake – for me, anyway – are the thin line separating the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press from defamatory and libelous statements, and how we, as a society, differ on priorities.

It’s similar to Republican presidential primary candidate Mitt Romney attempting to convince the public why he should be elected president, or President Barrack Obama attempting to convince the same why he should re-elected for a second term.

In his original rant, Limbaugh implied Fluke was having sex so often she couldn’t afford to buy her own contraceptives.

Since Limbaugh never has spent any real time with Fluke in any real space, he couldn’t know the specifics of her sex life.

Therefore, I am convinced, at this point, Limbaugh made a grave rush to judgment by publicly stating Fluke was some sort of loose floozy.

He crossed the line of protected rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and entered the danger zone of defamation and libel.

Concerning my stance, I’ll seal the deal by adding Limbaugh did offer Fluke a public apology.

However, there is a degree of logic behind Limbaugh’s argument.

“Oh, really?” some of you probably are asking.

Just hold on, and we’ll attempt to hammer this out.

One could pose the following as an argument: If  decision makers allow Georgetown University’s medical insurance to pay for Fluke’s birth control, should not the university, also, allow the same medical insurance to pay for male students in need of Viagra?

For example, what if Fluke, one day, wants to hook up with a male Georgetown law student who suffers from erectile dysfunction?

After all, according to the experts, both Viagra and oral contraceptives are sexually related medical drugs, right?

However, an ultra-strong conservative could counter with this: Sexual activity is not an absolute necessity for students to attend and successfully complete law school at Georgetown, or any other university for that matter.

Complete abstinence not only would delete the possibility of contracting life-threatening sexually transmitted diseases, it would instill in students a strict regimen of discipline that would serve them throughout life ... Hallelujah!

My point is this: Liberal or conservative, people – at the college-age level, particularly – are going to have sex, by one means or another, and affordable contraceptives should be made available, by one means or another.

Mike Vinson can be contacted at
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March 18, 2012 at 6:50am
First, good article. Well written.

Second, Rush Limbaugh is an idiot in my opinion. His brand of politics is no different from Bill Maher or any of the other so called "political pundits" who do nothing but try to create controversy for the sole purpose of increasing their ratings.

They have so much power and so much ability to actually make a difference and educate people, but instead use it to further their own purposes. It also doesn't say a lot for people who listen to any of the garbage that is spread by that type of person either.

Third, I could care less about Ms. Fluke's sex life. It is no one's business but hers as far as I am concerned. However, she was a poor choice of an example of someone who should be talking about insurance companies paying for birth control considering the tuition for Georgetown Law School costs more than most people make in four or five years. I would wager she could afford to go to Rite Aid and pick up a pack of birth control pills without worrying about going hungry any time soon.

Fourth, Viagra vs. birth control pills is a prime example of the hypocrisy of the affects of the Health Care Law to begin with.

Fifth, why stop at birth control. The next pill organizations will have to pay for will be the "Morning After" pill. Then we are on our way to federally funded abortions.
Does anyone have any doubt that if the government is given an inch that it won't take a couple of thousand miles?

Lastly, although it is a good article I will have to disagree with Mr. Vinson's statement that "affordable contraceptives should be made available, by one means or another".

Since when did it become the government's responsibility to provide America with contraceptives? I think we have survived 236 years without providing them and I bet we could survive another 236 if we kept on not providing them.

Using that logic then we should all have available HD TV's. I think before we start making contraceptives available for the entire world to have that we should start making the basics of life like homes, food, and education more readily available.

I might also add that there are affordable contraceptives available. They are called condoms and you can buy them just about anywhere if your need is that bad.
March 22, 2012 at 10:00am
"The Tennessee Department of Health offers family planning services in every county health department clinic.

Birth control services are provided on a sliding fee scale based on family size and income.
Persons below the federal poverty level will not be charged for services. No one will be denied services due to inability to pay.

Family planning services are available to anyone, male or female, who wants a method of birth control.

All information is kept private. The clinics are staffed by doctors, nurse practitioners, and nurses.

The staff are specially trained to provide education, counseling, physical assessments, medical histories, and contraceptives.

Services you will receive at your local family planning clinic

􀂕 Medical Services
􀂛 physical exams
􀂛 cervical cancer screening
􀂛 breast cancer screening
􀂛 STD testing and treatment
􀂛 Blood pressure screening
􀂛 anemia screening
􀂛 pregnancy testing
􀂛 dispensing of birth control methods
􀂛 emergency contraception’
􀂛 sterilization referrals
􀂕 Education and Counseling Services
􀂛 Reproductive and preventive health
􀂛 Self breast/testicular examination
􀂛 Contraceptive methods
􀂕 Referrals and linkages with community
resources "


March 22, 2012 at 9:24pm
Great information tngail and it proves my point that Obama'd health care law goes beyond the necessary need to provide contraceptives to the American people.

How a woman who pays thousands of dollars to go to Georgetown Law school sits in front of Congress and tries to imply that it is such a burden to pay for a pack of birth control pills is amazing to me.

It is just another way to force more government on the people of the United States!
March 23, 2012 at 7:29am
Right wrong or indifferent, the poor little rich girl has a right to her opinion and maybe just maybe she is taking the cause to defend and protect others not to benifit herself with free services.
March 23, 2012 at 9:25am
You are correct Bud, she has the right to her opinion.

My point is it would help her cause if she wouldn't state how much of a burden it was on her to attend Georgetown Law School and pay for birth control.

Just to clarify, the cost of Georgetown Law school PER SEMESTER is $23,000. Which is $46,000 a year.

I have read Ms. Fluke's entire transcript she gave in front of Congress and it is to say the least very political and not very believable that it is such a burden on her or anyone else paying $46,000 a year to attend school to buy birth control.

As tngail stated above anyone can go to the Health Department to get medical care and receive all different kinds of services to include contraceptives.

There is absolutely zero need for the U.S. Government to force employers to provide contraceptives to its employees.

This is simply another way to stick out your hand and get something free. It is unnecessary and not needed.
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