Sandra Fluke

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Sandra Fluke in 2013.

Sandra Kay Fluke (born April 17, 1981) is an American lawyer and women's rights activist. She is a graduate of Cornell University (2003), and cum laude graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center (2012). She spoke before Democratic members of the United States House of Representatives on why she believed free contraception is generally essential. Fluke was a Public Interest Law Scholar at the Georgetown University Law Center.


U.S. Congressional testimony (February 23, 2012)[edit]

Video of Sandra Fluke discussing her prepared Congressional testimony. (2012).
Opening statement

Sandra Fluke testimony to US Congress (2012 February 23). February 23, 2012. United States House of Representatives, House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee., alternate link, link at abcnews

  • These denials of contraceptive coverage impact real people. In the worst cases, women who need this medication for other medical reasons suffer dire consequences.
  • One woman told us doctors believe she has endometriosis, but it can’t be proven without surgery, so the insurance hasn’t been willing to cover her medication.
  • One student told us that she knew birth control wasn’t covered, and she assumed that’s how Georgetown’s insurance handled all of women’s sexual healthcare, so when she was raped, she didn’t go to the doctor even to be examined or tested for sexually transmitted infections because she thought insurance wasn’t going to cover something like that, something that was related to a woman’s reproductive health.
  • Her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted the birth control to prevent pregnancy. She’s gay, so clearly polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy. After months of paying over $100 out of pocket, she just couldn’t afford her medication anymore and had to stop taking it. I learned about all of this when I walked out of a test and got a message from her that in the middle of her final exam period she’d been in the emergency room all night in excruciating pain. … Without her taking the birth control, a massive cyst the size of a tennis ball had grown on her ovary. She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary.
  • This is the message that not requiring coverage of contraception sends. A woman’s reproductive healthcare isn’t a necessity, isn’t a priority.
  • Many of the women whose stories I’ve shared are Catholic women, so ours is not a war against the church. It is a struggle for access to the healthcare we need.
Questions from members of Congress
  • One woman came to me recently, since this happened, and described that she needs contraception to prevent seizures. So she has several seizures a month if she doesn't have contraception to balance her hormones. And that's just an incredible intrusion on her life, her ability to manage her daily affairs, if she doesn't have access to that medical prescription. So that's one of the huge impacts.
  • I think another impact that it's really important that we all think about, is that contraception when it first became available was a revolution in this country. It allowed women to enter employment and educational opportunities that had previously not been accessible because they were unable to control their reproduction in the same way. And I just can't imagine rolling back the clock on that progress.

2012 Democratic National Convention[edit]

Featured speaker at 2012 Democratic National Convention

Fluke, Sandra. (September 5, 2012) "Sandra Fluke: A choice between two futures", 2012 Democratic National Convention, hosted at MSNBC. accessed September 6, 2012.

  • I’m here because I spoke out, and this November, each of us must do the same.
  • During this campaign, we’ve heard about the two profoundly different futures that could await women. And how one of those futures looks like an offensive, obsolete relic of our past.
  • In that America: Your new president could be a man who stands by when public figures try to silence a private citizen with hateful slurs. Who won’t stand up to the slurs, or to any of the extreme, bigoted voices in his own party. It would be an America in which you have a new vice president who cosponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms.
  • Over the last six months, I’ve seen what these two futures look like. And six months from now, we’ll all be living in one, or the other. But only one. A country where our president either has our back – or turns his back.
  • A country where we mean it when we talk about personal freedom – or one where that freedom doesn’t apply to our bodies and our voices.
  • We talk often about choice. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to choose.


  • By now, many have heard the stories I wanted to share thanks to the congressional leaders and members of the media who have supported me and millions of women in speaking out.
  • Because we spoke so loudly, opponents of reproductive health access demonized and smeared me and others on the public airwaves. These smears are obvious attempts to distract from meaningful policy discussions and to silence women's voices regarding their own health care.
    • CNN, (March 13, 2012).
  • These attempts to silence women and the men who support them have clearly failed. I know this because I have received so many messages of support from across the country -- women and men speaking out because they agree that contraception needs to be treated as a basic health care service.
    • CNN, (March 13, 2012).
  • Restricting access to such a basic health care service, which 99% of sexually experienced American women have used and 62% of American women are using right now, is out of touch with public sentiment.
    • CNN, (March 13, 2012).
  • Attacking me and women who use contraception by calling us prostitutes and worse cannot silence us.
    • CNN, (March 13, 2012).
  • I am proud to stand with the millions of women and men who recognize that our government should legislate according to the reality of our lives -- not for ideology.
    • CNN, (March 13, 2012).
  • What female students might not remember is that the men with whom we stand shoulder-to-shoulder at graduation don't face the same financial challenges.
  • Many young women of my generation believe they live in a post-feminist world, without unfair sex discrimination -- a world in which career paths are designed with fathers and mothers in mind. Unfortunately, that world doesn't exist quite yet.
    • CNN, (April 17, 2012).
  • A significant gender pay gap still persists. That's why we cannot be passive as we acknowledge Equal Pay Day, which marks the day when a woman's earnings catch up to what her male peers earned in the previous year. To millennials, it's startling to see that women still earn just 77 cents to the dollar of what men earn.
    • CNN, (April 17, 2012).
  • Paycheck discrimination is not the only obstacle preventing women from having the same economic opportunities as men. As our country continues to focus on our economic recovery, leveling the financial playing field for women must be a priority. According to recent predictions, within a generation, more families will be supported by women than men. If these primary breadwinners earn lower incomes, it won't just affect their families, but also consumer spending and our larger financial growth.
    • CNN, (April 17, 2012).
  • Our generation can change this. We know what the problems are and we know what the solutions are, but we have to demand that our elected officials and business leaders take action. At the federal and state level, we have to fight efforts to repeal equal pay laws. We have to support increases in the minimum wage. And we have to demand that the United States join our global competitors in giving workers paid leave. All these issues affect our individual financial health and the strength of our collective economy.
    • CNN, (April 17, 2012).

Media interviews[edit]

  • There have been highs and lows, yes. So it's been quite a journey, and I am just happy that what seems to be happening in the process is that America is hearing the voices of the women affected by lack of contraception coverage and who will benefit from this policy, that is really what is most important for me, and that is why I’ve been working on this for years honestly.
  • It means a lot to me, the support of the law school faculty as well as the president of the university has been helpful. And I think it’s really an example of what kind of model we should look to in our national discourse, because clearly the president of the university and i disagree about the issues but we are both able to handle it in a civil manner.
  • It's an attempt to silence women. That's really what it's about, if we're called these names, then we'll go away and we won't demand the health care we deserve and we need and I think women have proven those folks wrong.
  • I think that a lot of women unfortunately have heard those types of words and historically they've always been used to try to silence women, especially women who are speaking out about their reproductive health and reproductive needs.
  • I think his statements that he made on the air about me have been personal enough. so I’d rather not have a personal phone call from him.
  • [This] was not someone who made one accidental statement. This was three days of significant portions of his three-hour show. He insulted me and the women of Georgetown who have received no apology. He insulted us over 53 times.
  • There are, of course, some people who legitimately disagree about the actual contraception policy, and that legitimate policy disagreement is appropriate.
    • TIME, March 8, 2012.
  • I would do this again, because these issues are that important to me.
    • TIME, March 8, 2012.


U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

  • Thank you, Madame Leader, for hosting today's event. And thank you, Ms. Fluke, for coming here today to share the testimony you were banned from giving last week. When Chairman Issa rejected your testimony before the Oversight Committee, he argued that his hearing was not about contraceptives and was not about women's reproductive rights. He said you are merely "a college student who appears to have become energized over this issue," that you are not "appropriate or qualified" to testify, and that you did not have "the appropriate credentials" to appear before the Committee. Obviously, everyone on this panel disagrees.
  • While it would be nice to believe we're in the twilight zone, the recent ploys of Republicans against women's health are all frighteningly too real. In reality, this hearing did take place with the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee blocking the testimony of women, women like Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke, who later testified during a special hearing convened by Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of a fellow female student at Georgetown University who had been denied contraception coverage because of the university's Catholic affiliation. Her friend experienced complications stemming from ovarian cysts that could have been treated with birth control. Sadly, due to nontreatment, doctors eventually were forced to remove her ovary.
Video of speech by Representative Jackie Speier in United States House of Representatives. (March 1, 2012).
  • Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to say to Rush Limbaugh, "Shame on you." Shame on you for being the hatemonger that you are. Shame on you for being misogynistic. Shame on you for calling the women of this country sluts and prostitutes, because that's what he did. Ninety-eight percent of the women in this country, at some time in their lives, use birth control. And yet he went on the air recently and called Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute because she was trying to access birth control pills as a third-year law student at Georgetown.
  • Mr. Speaker, last night, I rested very well on my Sleep Number bed knowing that the company had pulled its ads from Rush Limbaugh's show. In light of Limbaugh's recent misogynistic attack on Georgetown student Sandra Fluke's fight to obtain affordable, legal birth control for women, I have been drawn to the important part that advertisers play in politics. The use of airwaves to spread hatred of women is wrong. Those advertisers who support broadcasters who do so are nothing less than accessories to the crime. Advertisers' money keeps these vitriolic and hateful shows and hosts on the air.
  • Yesterday, I mentioned that I slept well on my Sleep Number bed, and I slept well on my Sleep Number bed last night because they canceled their advertising on the Rush Limbaugh show. I mentioned that advertisers are accessories to the crime when radio people go too far and destroy someone's character, or try to, and make libelous statements. Limbaugh did that when he called Sandra Fluke some names, said she did some things or whatever, that were wrong, totally wrong. Eleven advertisers have pulled their advertising because they don't want to, in the future, be accessories to such conduct.
  • Madam Speaker, Rush Limbaugh's appalling attack on Georgetown student Sandra Fluke is no isolated incident, but part of a broader GOP assault on women's health. Republicans have ushered in Women's History Month with legislation to allow employers and insurance companies to deny women needed health coverage.
  • Here's how sorry Rush Limbaugh is for his attacks on a law school student who dared to give her opinion about access to contraception coverage. He's so sorry that a full transcript of his tirade, including the words he "apologized" for, was available yesterday under the heading "Most Popular" on the home page of his Web site. He's so sorry that the verbatim document of his March 1 rant, in which he repeated his name-calling of Sandra Fluke and mocked Democrats for criticizing him, is right on his Web site today under the title "Left freaks out over Fluke remarks."
  • A young law student, Sandra Fluke, came before this body, before the Members of Congress, and testified regarding coverage for family planning and contraceptives. She was then publicly derailed as being a slut and a prostitute. I would hope the days of derogatory terms to silence women's opinions are over forever, particularly when they speak about truth.

U.S. Senate[edit]

Members of United States Senate discuss Sandra Fluke being banned by Darrell Issa from giving testimony to Congress. U.S. Senators in discussion in Congressional Record include: Jeanne Shaheen, Patty Murray, Kirsten Gillibrand, Barbara Boxer, Charles Schumer. (February 17, 2012).
  • When female members of the House committee asked for a woman to testify along with the men, they were denied. Their request was simple: to allow Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown Law School student, to testify on this panel of all men. As a woman she could speak firsthand about how this rule would impact women. But their request was denied because the chairman said Sandra Fluke was unqualified. How can a woman be unqualified to talk about women's health care? Yet every one of these men on the panel was deemed to be qualified to talk about women's health care. I am disappointed. I know it is a disappointment that is shared by millions of women across this country. I am saddened that here we are, in 2012, and a House committee would hold a hearing on women's health and deny women the ability to share their perspective.
  • Mr. President, I have said it time and time again all across New York State at event after event: We need more women's voices in our decisionmaking process. We need more women at the table in government and in business. When women are at the table, they bring a very different perspective to the same problems, a different set of solutions, a different approach. At the end of the day, the outcomes are better when women's voices are heard.
  • For millions of American women, reading the news this morning was like stepping into a time machine and going back 50 years, seeing the headlines and the photos of this all-male panel in the House talking about a woman's right to access birth control, and no women on the panel. It turns out the chairman of the House oversight committee decided he was not going to allow a young woman who had been asked by the minority to testify and tell her story--actually of a friend who had lost an ovary because of her lack of contraception coverage. So this 19-year-old woman was left to watch, like the rest of us, as all five men addressed the committee about how they supported efforts to restrict access to care. I am sure by now many of my colleagues here have seen this picture of this all-male panel, the picture that says a thousand words. It is one that most women thought was left behind when pictures only came in black and white.
  • This is what America saw, a Republican House of Representatives that is so hostile to women's health that they didn't even think about having a person on there who was a female, nor did they have anyone on there that agreed it is important that women have access to birth control knowing that for many women birth control is medicine, knowing that 99 percent of women, sometime in her lifetime, utilized birth control.
  • This is about women's health, and women and men all over America are scratching their heads and saying: Are we fighting against contraception? Are we turning the clock back 60 or 70 years? It makes no sense.

The White House[edit]

White House Press Secretary[edit]

White House Press conference, March 2, 2012
Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary. Video of exchange filmed by (March 2, 2012).

Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary. White House Press Secretary on Sandra Fluke (2012 March 2). 2 March 2012. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney answers question about Sandra Fluke. Source:

  • The President called Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke … because he wanted to offer his support to her. He wanted to express his disappointment that she has been the subject of inappropriate, personal attacks, and to thank her for exercising her rights as a citizen to speak out on an issue of public policy. And it was a very good conversation.
  • It was several minutes. They had a very good conversation. I think he, like a lot of people, feels that the kinds of personal attacks that she's -- that have been directed her way are inappropriate. The fact that our political discourse has become debased in many ways is bad enough. It is worse when it's directed at private citizen who was simply expressing her views on a matter of public policy.
  • The fact of the matter is the President was expressing his support for her, and his disappointment in the kind of attacks that have been leveled at her to her, and his appreciation for her willingness to stand tall and express her opinion.

President of the United States[edit]

White House Press conference held by President of the United States, March 6, 2012
Video of President Barack Obama by (March 6, 2012).

President of the United States Barack Obama. President Obama discusses his phone call to Sandra Fluke. (March 6, 2012). The White House. Washington, D.C. Office of the Press Secretary. James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. Text at, Video at

  • I don't know what's in Rush Limbaugh's heart, so I'm not going to comment on the sincerity of his apology. What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don't have any place in the public discourse.
  • The reason I called Ms. Fluke is because I thought about Malia and Sasha, and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on. I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way. And I don't want them attacked or called horrible names because they're being good citizens.
  • I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her, and that we want to send a message to all our young people that being part of a democracy involves argument and disagreements and debate, and we want you to be engaged, and there's a way to do it that doesn't involve you being demeaned and insulted, particularly when you’re a private citizen.

Legal commentary[edit]

  • What happened to Ms. Fluke’s free speech? Since when has it been okay to target people who testify before policy makers with vicious, unwarranted and defamatory attacks? You may think that all of your misconduct disappears because you label yourself an entertainer. Well, we are not entertained – we are disgusted. You think that your non-apology apology coming on the heels of advertisers abandoning your show will make them come back? I guess even some of your advertisers do not find you all that entertaining. We hope that your advertisers continue to show the good sense and judgment that you lack by abandoning your show in droves.
  • Women see you for who you are. I have received countless emails from women across the country who are outraged and want to do something about you. You may have thought that women would be silenced by your attacks, but just the opposite is true. Women are rallying because we see that your attack on Ms. Fluke is an attack on all of us and on our right to speak out publicly and to stand up for contraception and our reproductive rights.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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