If talk show host Rush Limbaugh did anything for the women’s rights activist he called a “slut” and “prostitute” earlier this year, he undoubtedly gave her a better spotlight than ever to highlight her cause.
Sandra Fluke has been on national airwaves to discuss the controversy. She wrote an op-ed piece for CNN on the presidential election, introduced President Barack Obama at a Denver campaign rally and spoke at this year’s Democratic National Convention. Universities asked her to visit and speak on reproductive issues.
Today, she will bring her message to Albany. Fluke will give introductory remarks and is one of several panelists at the Albany Law Journal of Science & Technology’s fall symposium, which will be held today from 1 to 5 p.m.
The symposium, titled “From the Page to the Pill: Women’s Reproductive Rights and the Law,” will focus on the legislation currently affecting women’s reproductive rights and whether the law can and should mandate health insurance providers to cover women’s contraceptives.
These issues are what first thrust Fluke into the national spotlight. She was 30 years old and a law student in February when Democrats asked her to speak before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The committee was made up of clergy and theologians, all of whom were men. The topic was insurance coverage for birth control.
Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., refused to allow her testimony.
A week later, though, she got her chance. Speaking before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, Fluke outlined the reasons she believed contraceptives should be covered by her school’s health insurance policies. The high costs of contraceptives are either burdensome or scare women away from using them, she said. In turn, the women risk pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
Fluke was a student at Georgetown Law School, a Catholic school that didn’t offer coverage for birth control.
Reproductive rights and contraceptive coverage remain hot-button issues with less than four weeks to go until Election Day, and Albany Law School is dedicating four hours of debate to the topic at today’s symposium.
Albany Law Professor Evelyn Tenenbaum will moderate the event, which will include a panel on Affordable Care Act mandates and a panel on reproductive healthcare legislation.
Panelists include Helen Alvare, an associate law professor at George Mason University School of Law; Michael Costello, an attorney with Tobin and Dempf LLC; Shaifali Puri, director of Scientists Without Borders; Melissa Weiler-Gerber, executive director of Pennsylvania’s Family Planning Council; Tracey Brooks, CEO of Family Planning Advocates for New York State; Judith Daar, dean at Whittier Law School; and Anna Franzonello, counsel for Americans United for Life.
The event is free and open to the public and will be held at Albany Law School’s Dean Alexander Moot Courtroom.
A live stream of the event can be found online at www.totalwebcasting.com/live/albanylaw.