For health activist Fluke, an emphatic endorsement of Obama

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina Thu Sep 6, 2012 12:22am EDT

Attorney and women's rights activist Sandra Fluke addresses delegates during the second session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 5, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Attorney and women's rights activist Sandra Fluke addresses delegates during the second session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - Women's health activist Sandra Fluke, who came under a barrage of attacks from conservatives this year for supporting Democratic President Barack Obama's contraceptive policy, lashed back on Wednesday in an unflinching speech at Democratic National Convention.

"Your new president could be a man who stands by when a public figure tries to silence a private citizen with hateful slurs. A man who won't stand up to the slurs, or to any of the extreme, bigoted voices in his own party," referring to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's muted reaction after conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called her a "slut" last March.

Fluke, then a 30-year-old law student at Georgetown University, got caught up in heated debate over Obama's policy requiring health insurance plans to cover contraception when she spoke out against Republicans' efforts to scrap the policy.

Limbaugh called her a "slut" and a "prostitute" for her comments. Limbaugh later apologized, but the controversy drove advertisers from his national radio show.

Obama telephoned Fluke after Limbaugh's comments, and invoked his concern for his two young daughters when he explained why he had reached out to the student.

Fluke has been an active campaigner for Obama's re-election. During the campaign, the party has focused on social issues like abortion rights and insurance coverage for contraception to appeal to women voters, while accusing Republicans of waging a "war on women."

Republicans reject the charge, and contend that Obama's policies hurt women by failing to alleviate stubbornly high unemployment and do more to create a U.S. business environment friendly to corporations that create jobs.

Fluke did not mention Romney by name in her short speech. She also targeted Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, Romney's vice presidential running mate, a strong opponent of abortion rights.

Without naming him, Fluke said Ryan would be a vice president who co-sponsored a bill that would "allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms."

In the House of Representatives, Ryan has fought insurance coverage for contraception and co-sponsored a bill to give "personhood" rights to fetuses, a measure criticized as an effort to forbid abortions even when they might be necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman.

(Editing by David Lindsey and Alden Bentley)

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Comments (3)
larrydean1 wrote:
Fluke asked Romney to silence and attack three voices in his party. Yet she complains about being attacked herself! $3.000 for birth control for a college student suggests she was not in college for an education! If the president is willing to pay money for birth control at this rate, I know why the economy is in trouble! Walmart and under $10 was suggested as cheaper by the month!

Sep 05, 2012 12:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
yooper wrote:
Insurance coverage for prescription contraception as preventive care is an economic issue. Calling it a ‘social issue’ as the Republicans like to do marginalizes it and women’s health as well. This is no marginal issue for women of childbearing age and their families. Women’s lives and health depend on it.

Sep 05, 2012 12:58am EDT  --  Report as abuse
benton112 wrote:
I, as a female, do not consider this an economic issue. Even when I was using contraceptives, I did not feel someone else should have to pay for them, and I had access to lower cost contraceptives through the local health department. Fluke had access to free birth control when she was in college, but chose not to use it, it is called abstinence.

Sep 06, 2012 1:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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