In Honor of International Women’s Day, Let’s All Read Sandra Fluke’s Statement to Congress

Not because we should or shouldn’t agree with it, but because we, as media professionals, ought to be fully informed on the issues we follow and report on. It’s unfair to our readers, listeners, and subjects when we distort the facts and spread misinformation, as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly , Megyn Kelly, and so many others in the media have recently done.

In honor of International Women’s Day, let’s find out what Sandra Fluke actually said in her testimony before we start calling her names, talking about her sex life, or demanding to see her perform in pornography. Let’s celebrate this holiday by listening to a woman and accurately reporting on what she has to say, instead of calling her a slut and a prostitute because we may not share her beliefs. Because truth and accuracy is our moral and professional duty as journalists, and we owe it to the public to get our facts straight.

A video and transcript of Fluke’s testimony is included after the jump:

 

Leader Pelosi, members of Congress, good morning. And thank you for calling this hearing on women’s health and for allowing me to testify on behalf of the women who will benefit from the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage regulation.

My name is Sandra Fluke, and I’m a third-year student at Georgetown Law School. I’m also a past-president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice or LSRJ. And I’d like to acknowledge my fellow LSRJ members and allies and all of the student activists with us and thank them so much for being here today.

We, as Georgetown LSRJ, are here today because we’re so grateful that this regulation implements the non-partisan medical advice of the Institute of Medicine. I attend a Jesuit law school that does not provide contraceptive coverage in its student health plan. And just as we students have faced financial, emotional, and medical burdens as a result, employees at religiously-affiliated hospitals and institutions and universities across the country have suffered similar burdens.

We are all grateful for the new regulation that will meet the critical health care needs of so many women. Simultaneously, the recently announced adjustment addresses any potential conflict with the religious identity of Catholic or Jesuit institutions.

When I look around my campus, I see the faces of the women affected by this lack of contraceptive coverage. And especially in the last week, I have heard more and more of their stories. On a daily basis, I hear yet from another woman from Georgetown or from another school or who works for a religiously-affiliated employer, and they tell me that they have suffered financially and emotionally and medically because of this lack of coverage.

And so, I’m here today to share their voices, and I want to thank you for allowing them – not me – to be heard. Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. 40% of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggle financially as a result of this policy.

One told us about how embarrassed and just powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter and learned for the first time that contraception was not covered on her insurance and she had to turn and walk away because she couldn’t afford that prescription. Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception.

Just last week, a married female student told me that she had to stop using contraception because she and her husband just couldn’t fit it into their budget anymore. Women employed in low-wage jobs without contraceptive coverage face the same choice.