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GU law student denied testimony on contraception

Last Thursday, third-year Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke was called by Democrats to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the recent White House requirement that employers must provide contraceptives without a copayment in their insurance plans. Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) refused to let Fluke testify, sparking a controversy regarding fair representation.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration released a federal regulation requiring all insurance providers to cover contraceptives at no cost to the employee as part of the health care reform law that the President signed nearly two years ago. Exceptions were made for objecting churches and places of worship, but not for religiously-affiliated organizations like charities, hospitals, and universities such as Georgetown.

Issa convened a hearing to determine whether this regulation violated these institutions’ religious liberties. House Democrats requested that Fluke testify, but Issa refused, saying that Democrats did not submit her name in time for consideration, a charge which Democrats contest. At Issa’s refusal, Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) stormed out of the all-male panel, saying: “Where are the women?”

Democrats asked Fluke to testify again this Thursday at the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, but the Republican-controlled body refused to televise the event. “House Republicans are again trying to silence voices of women affected by the policy,” Fluke told the Voice.

Fluke, the former president of the Georgetown chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, planned to affirm her support for the new mandate and recount her experience with one of her friends at Georgetown Law. According to Fluke’s written testimony, her classmate was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome and required oral contraceptives to prevent development of ovarian cysts. Contraceptives are not covered by the University’s student health policy with UnitedHealthcare Insurance unless they are being used to treat another condition.

In this case, Fluke’s friend, despite confirmation of her illness from her doctor, was never able to get her medication.  “Her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted the birth control to prevent pregnancy,” Fluke said. “She’s gay, so clearly polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy.”

According to Fluke, her friend could not keep up with $100 per month out-of-pocket payments for her medication, so she had to forgo treatment until a cyst developed on her ovary, requiring its removal altogether. Such a procedure caused early menopause and likely infertility in the law student, said Fluke.

According to a survey by LSRJ, 40 percent of female Georgetown Law students reported struggling financially as a result of the lack of birth control coverage. Additionally, according to the same body, 20 percent could never get the insurance company to cover birth control for legitimate medical reasons.

Georgetown denies culpability for incidents like this one. “The Student Health Center and the Office of Student Insurance have consistently worked together to minimize administrative issues for students seeking insurance coverage for oral contraceptives prescribed for medical conditions,” University spokeswoman Stacy Kerr said. “Students routinely are provided coverage when a medical condition is present that necessitates the use of such contraceptives.”

United HealthCare Insurance Company, the provider for the student health plan, did not respond to requests for comment and has not released a statement regarding Fluke’s testimony.

LSRJ has been lobbying the Georgetown administration for several years to start covering birth control in its student health plans. The University already offers several health plans that cover contraception for University employees. Over the past year, LSRJ had meetings with the University at which they presented their view of how the policy was affecting students. Invoking the D.C. Human Rights Act, LSRJ demanded that the University change its policy. The issue reached the Office of the President last year, which upheld the policy.

Several small, religiously affiliated schools, including Ave Maria College in southern Florida, have filed a lawsuit to prevent the new mandate on insured birth control from taking effect. There is no indication that Georgetown will join the suit.

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, the Catholic Health Association, and Catholic Charities USA all expressed support for the mandate. Georgetown has said it will comply with the new federal regulations, which take effect for most employers on Aug. 1 of this year.


About Connor Jones
Connor Jones is the editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Voice and the former editor of its blog, Vox Populi. He's a double major in mathematics and economics from Atlanta, Ga. He can be reached at cjones@georgetownvoice.com.

18 comments on “GU law student denied testimony on contraception
  1. Christina on said:

    Women need contraception for a variety of medical reasons. If you watch the video of Sandra’s testimony before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, you will hear the stories of Georgetown law students who have needed and been denied contraception for a variety of reasons – to prevent cysts from developing on their ovaries, to control seizures, to treat endometriosis, and to prevent pregnancy immediately after giving birth. Contraception is taken by women who are not sexually active as well as those who are, and by women who are married as well as those who are not. In fact, 98% of Catholic women have used some form of contraception in their lifetime.

  2. Louise R on said:

    Thank you Ms. Sandra Fluke for raising your voice in support of women’s rights and giving a voice to the shared opinions of many women. I fully support the common sense solution of providing reproductive health, contraception, and options, to women everywhere who desire and deserve control over their lives and their own bodies. Shame on those who are making this a ‘controversial’ issue in this day and age!

  3. Are you serious? Cry me a river! You ALREADY get aide to go to school for free and now you want the rest of us to pay for your sex? This is an outrage! Some of us actually paid for our college by working two jobs and eating peanut butter and jelly. We also bought our own birth control as well. Sounds to me like you Ms. Fluke are a great example of”entitlement”. Please tell me why as a taxpayer I should pay for your sexual activities? It is a manipulation to call it “healthcare”. You may be sick and need to go to the doctors but you DO NOT have to have sex! Two very different issues.

  4. CaseyA on said:

    Sandra and every other woman in the US can pay for her own darn contraceptives. I’m so sick of hearing women whine about the cost–which is negligible–to engage in casual sex.

    Sorry, I’m not interested in paying for your sexual exploits. As a woman I reply, \GROW UP ALREADY!\

    This kid’s \testimony\ was ridiculous, hilarious and a sad commentary on the quality of logic and reason coming from supposedly intelligent university students. She wants it, therefore she must have it paid for by others.

    Sheesh.

  5. Oh give me freaking a break, women have no “right” to contraception; if a woman needs contraception then she can pay for it herself. I have no problem with it if she needs it for a documented medical reason but if you’re just having sex than you can do it on your own dollar, NOT mine. If students want to save money on contraception then these girls should study more and keep their pants on. That’s just the truth, taxpayers aren’t responsible for it.

  6. truth on said:

    First, Fluke says it costs $3,000 a year for contraceptives.
    That is deceptive. Walmart has been offering oral contraceptives for $9 a month since 2007. That is $108 per year. Other pharmacies offer similar deals.

    Second, why is it our responsibility to pay for another person’s recreational sexual activity? or incur higher insurance premiums for it?

    Third, if a married person couldn’t afford the cost of her contraceptives one month, she and her husband could reduce their sexual activity for a few weeks and use a condom to save money, or practice abstinence until they saved for their own birth control. Or go to a free clinic.

    Fourth, if a woman can’t pay for her contraceptives, then her male partner should cough up the money for it. Why should we pay for two people’s sexual activity?

    Fifth, the woman who was denied treatment for ovarian cysts is a separate issue. We shouldn’t have to pay for everyone in this country to have a face lift if they want it, because one person was denied plastic surgery for a facial injury. That is why we have lawyers in this country, and that is why we have law schools like Georgetown University, to file lawsuits for people like this woman, and have the insurance company pay for their lawful claims.

  7. Jared on said:

    What a stupid whore.
    It’s not enough that she gets a free education, now she wants everyone to pay more, so she can be a worry-free skank?
    I can’t wait until the global economic collapse.
    Hopefully, most of you lazy, worthless leeches will starve to death.

  8. Maria on said:

    The problem is partly United HealthCare. No one is denying contraception to women; United HealthCare is denying that medication for what is a covered condition. That’s a different legal problem & they should be dragged back to court (again, I might add!) to answer for that. Anyone who has had them has had justifiable things denied. They’re TERRIBLE and cheap for employers. Another problem with Ms. Fluke is that she is not an EMPLOYEE; this legislation applies to employees, not students. Another problem: there are other ways to get free or cheap contraception. My understanding is that she is for all students, including those who do want it as contraception only. Make their boyfriend pay it or the “door” is closed til they do! That’ll get those worthless guys to pay up! This is not a Women’s Issue, and shame on those tho think it is.

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  10. Matt on said:

    I just don’t get it… The university policy already has exceptions for women with medical reasons to use contraception, if they are breaking the policy which Ms. Fluke is saying then that’s one issue, trying to get the university and other institutions to change its policy which go against there teachings thats an entirely different thing… You hvlave the choice to attend that university, you are lucky they even have a health care system for students. Healthcare is not a right! Higher education is not a right either!!! Get some brains people!!!

    Also she’s THIRTY, join the real world, get a job and pay for your own damn insurance!!!

    This isn’t a women’s rights issue, it’s an issue of the government telling me and others that they have to do something that we don’t want to do and shouldn’t have to do. The only birth control that I want to pay for it my wife’s and my daughters, not some 30 year old student. Hey I did my time in college to get my phd, I struggled to get by, I have earned my money. Don’t tell me that you should get more of my money to pay for your birth control!

  11. Dina on said:

    The vulgarity of all your responses shows your bigotry!!! I have not seen one response that is not degrading to women and it is disgusting. Contraception and Promiscuity are not mutually exclusive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You all need to grow up and take a look at yourselves. How degrading you all are and you should be ashamed of yourselves! Makes me embarrassed to be in the same gender!

  12. Dina on said:

    Have any of you actually read anything? Just asking because it seems you have neglected to mention the fact that Georgetown covers contraception for the administration!!! Also, students pay to go to college and pay for their insurance plans through the college. You are not paying for anything! They have student loans to pay back after school!! It is not free especially at a school like Georgetown!

  13. thomas on said:

    I am a Catholic and contraception and abortion are against my religios beliefs,However…..recently my beliefs have changed in favor of both. I beleive that if I will be forced to pay for these “medical conditions” by the Liberals, then I/We should have a say in the conditions of the law. I am absolutely willing to pay my part for any and all abortions if the law makes it MANDATORY FOR ALL LIBERALS TO USE CONTRACEPTION AND HAVE ABORTIONS and breaking this law is punishable by execution. This is far fetched i will admit, But Mrs. Fluke is a prime example of why we need a law like this. for the record I do understand that there are multiple reasons for these procedures and Mrs.Fluke does not represent those with ficticious stories.

  14. Liz on said:

    In response to the posts:

    “What a stupid whore.
    It’s not enough that she gets a free education, now she wants everyone to pay more, so she can be a worry-free skank?”

    “Fifth, the woman who was denied treatment for ovarian cysts is a separate issue. We shouldn’t have to pay for everyone in this country to have a face lift if they want it, because one person was denied plastic surgery for a facial injury.”

    First of all, did you even READ the article? Contraception IS NOT inextricably linked to being a “whore” — in fact, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a non-partisan research group for reproductive issues, 14% of women (that’s 1.5 million) use contraceptive pills for NONCONTRACEPTIVE PURPOSES, including endometriosis, a medical condition. And even if contraception IS being used to prevent pregnancy, then DAMN – isn’t that something that a SMART, RESPONSIBLE woman SHOULD do? Especially while she’s in school and unequipped to provide for a child?! To invite women into law school to further their education (not their religion) and then deny them the services needed in order for them to stay in school and get a degree? Seems pretty contradictory to me. And let’s face it. Women are having sex. Men are having sex. They’re students. So what? Not every student who attends a Catholic University is going to be Catholic or follow a particular religious doctrine. And if the University expects that they do, then they shouldn’t invite or accept anyone who isn’t in the first place.

    And I’m sorry, “truth,” but having my ovaries treated for a diagnosed medical condition that may in fact threaten my health and my future ability to get pregnant if I so choose IS NOT in the least equivalent to a face-lift. Last time I checked, plastic surgery for treating wrinkles only followed a diagnosis of vanity and superficiality. Treating ovarian cysts follows a diagnosis that if not treated results in serious health complications. But I guess according to your proposition, from now on we’ll refuse to treat patients whose appendix has just ruptured, or who needs a tumor in their body treated.

    Your misogynist language is alarming and disgusting. Know your facts – and stop bashing on powerful, intellectual women. (Again, last time I checked, Georgetown doesn’t accept “stupid whores” who “never study” and who get in to law school by skipping class to go bang).

    And one last thing…why are you just bashing women who want contraception? It takes two to “conceive” … and I’m pretty sure the men in these women’s lives want them to receive contraception just as much as they do. So why no mention of them? If you’re going to slam birth control users, at least save your sexism…make it a man’s issue too.

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