After she was verbally assailed by Rush Limbaugh on his talk show, Sandra Fluke ’03 received an apology from the conservative radio host on Saturday.
“My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir,” Limbaugh stated on his website. “I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”
Limbaugh called Fluke, a law student at Georgetown University, a “prostitute” and “slut” on The Rush Limbaugh Show Wednesday for advocating the inclusion of contraceptives in health insurance plans.
The personal attacks even prompted President Barack Obama to weigh in on the issue. He called Fluke from the Oval Office on Friday to show his support for her, according to The Washington Post.
According to The Huffington Post, Limbaugh said that because the birth control debate is framed around “personal sexual recreational activities,” rather than broader health questions, Americans should pay to use contraceptives. He compared buying contraceptives to buying sneakers.
“What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line?” Limbaugh said. “Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? ... I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom, nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a presidential level.”
According to The Washington Post, Fluke was originally supposed to testify to a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives about Georgetown not covering contraceptives in its health plan. While Republican lawmakers refused to listen to Fluke’s testimony at the hearing, Democratic lawmakers invited Fluke to speak to them at an unofficial session.
After Fluke met the lawmakers, Limbaugh said during his radio show on Wednesday, “What does this say about the college coed … Who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.”
Several companies have withdrawn their advertisements from Limbaugh’s show and said they will not reconsider their decision, despite his apology. According to The Washington Post, six advertisers pulled sponsorship of Limbaugh’s show as of Saturday, and both Republicans and Democrats have criticized Limbaugh’s comments.
“Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency,” the CEO of Carbonite, a former Limbaugh sponsor, stated in a message on Facebook. “No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady.”
Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet, an organization that focuses on doing grassroots work on women’s issues, agreed and told The Huffington Post that she was not buying Limbaugh’s apology.
“Rush’s apology wasn’t actually an apology,” she said. “No radio show that attacks women should be rewarded with advertising dollars. And more than 84,000 of our members who signed a petition in the last day agree.”