That Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke's congressional testimony has come to dominate our national conversation about the government's unprecedented insurance mandate shows just how easily the media can become distracted from the truly profound questions that confront our country.
The saga began when Sandra Fluke was prevented from testifying at an initial hearing on religious freedom and the effects of the mandate which would require faith-based employers to pay for health insurance policies that provide free contraception, even if they believe contraception to be morally objectionable.
Unlike the members of the panel (which included a bishop, an archbishop, and a rabbi), Ms. Fluke is neither a theologian nor a clergyperson. She is a third-year law student, who, according to the Washington Post, researched the Jesuit school’s policy of not providing insurance that includes free contraception before enrolling and has spent three years lobbying to change this.
The determination of House Democrats to have Ms. Fluke on the religious freedom panel speaks volumes—they know they must keep the focus on contraception and not allow the discussion to return to the real issue: religious freedom. That said, not allowing Ms. Fluke to testify, however appropriate it was to do so, backfired, becoming the first fluke in a fluke-filled process, allowing Democrats an opportunity to raise the profile of the contraception issue.
Ms. Fluke got her chance to testify at another at another panel, a few days later, sponsored by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, at which she said that she and her Georgetown Law School (tuition: $39,000) friends are "going broke" paying for their contraception.
Her supposition that a female law student must spend $3,000 to have protected sex during three years of law school is laughable. A US News & World Report article two years ago cited Planned Parenthood figures that put the cost of the pill at between $15 and $50 a month. I called my pharmacy and asked what birth control pills cost for someone without insurance. They gave me an even cheaper price of around $30 a month, though I realize cost varies widely, depending on what prescription the doctor gives. Condoms for a year run about $150.
As unseemly as it is to have a graduate students at an expensive law school insisting that someone else should be forced to pick up the about $600 a year tab for her contraception, this too misses the broader point. In the United States, we shouldn’t be forced to violate our consciences for any amount of money, or for any reason.