Why Rush was Right

07Mar12

By now we’ve all heard or read the comments that Rush Limbaugh made on the air about Sandra Fluke’s testimony, and the backlash against it. I’d like to delve into the assumptions behind his comments (which I will not reproduce here) and see where he might have been right.

The assumptions:

  1. Sandra Fluke was testifying about herself.
  2. Sandra Fluke’s testimony was in favor of the government paying for contraception.
  3. Oral contraceptive use is on a per-instance basis.
  4. The only use for oral contraceptives is to prevent pregnancy.
  5. Paying for contraception equates to paying for sex.
  6. Those who pay for sex should get some titillation in exchange.

The facts:

You can read a transcript of Sandra Fluke’s testimony on PolitiFact’s In Context pages.

  1. Sandra Fluke was not testifying about herself. In fact, the bulk of her testimony was about a friend of hers with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). As it happens, the friend is gay, so is unlikely to have an unintended pregnancy.
  2. Sandra Fluke was testifying in favor of requiring employer-provided health insurance to cover oral contraceptives (in part, so that people like her friend who need them for other reasons can have them covered).
  3. Most oral contraceptives are used on a daily basis, rather than on a per-instance basis. Only emergency contraception (like Plan B) is used on a per-instance basis. For most oral contraceptives, it doesn’t matter if a woman has sex once or 300 times in a month, they still need to be taken daily. (I’m amazed that there are people out there who don’t know this.)
  4. Oral contraceptives are often used to treat existing medical conditions (like PCOS, as mentioned above and in Sandra Fluke’s testimony, also heavy periods), rather than prevent pregnancy.
  5. Paying for contraception is not the same as paying for sex. If it were, no teenage boy who bought a condom from a vending machine would have had it deteriorating in his wallet.
  6. According to the laws of most states, those who pay for sex are committing an illegal act, and should get nothing in return.

Was Rush Right?

It is possible to start from a false assumption and happen upon a correct answer. It is even remotely possible to start from six false assumptions and happen upon a correct answer. However, as I am not writing this from the back of a flying pig, I will have to say that he did not. However, there is a certain logical appeal to his sixth assumption, so let’s play with assumptions five and six for a little while, while adding a few additional facts:

  1. Rush Limbaugh has been married four times.
  2. Rush Limbaugh was caught in the Dominican Republic with Viagra not prescribed to him.
  3. Rush Limbaugh has no children.

Add a couple of assumptions:

  1. Rush Limbaugh has had sex with each of his wives.
  2. Rush Limbaugh has used Viagra on his own prescription.
  3. Rush Limbaugh’s employer-provided insurance covers his (and his wives’) prescriptions for Viagra (and birth control).

Therefore:

The listeners who buy the goods from his show’s advertisers, who pay his employer, who pays him, are paying him to have sex. Therefore, they should be forced to watch online videos of him having sex.

To all the Dittoheads who might read this: “You’re welcome (in advance). Enjoy your viewing.”

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5 Responses to “Why Rush was Right”

  1. 1 jemma

    Personally, I didn’t know that contraceptives needed to be taken daily. But it doesn’t matter. If the contraceptives aren’t being used for contraception, then why should they be apart of a woman’s reproductive rights? Why aren’t they repackaged and called something else? I know that many other medicines are. I have a question that has been bugging me. Why would someone choose to work for, go to school, etc at a place that doesn’t allow them certain freedoms? It seems ridiculous to me.

    • Actually, Ms. Fluke’s testimony highlights why oral contraceptive use for secondary conditions is a part of reproductive rights. As in the case of her friend with PCOS, if an insurer can deny their use for birth control, they can choose to assume that any use is for birth control — or to have birth control as a secondary benefit.

      The current job market is a great example of why someone would choose to work for an employer who doesn’t allow them certain freedoms. If you need to pay rent, put food on the table, and clothe your children you can’t be as choosy as you might wish.

      There are also times when some values align, but not others — like professors and administrators in Catholic or Adventist universities, or staff in similarly affiliated hospitals. If you are place-bound and value education or health care, those may be the most likely employer in town — even if you know there may be struggles ahead regarding birth control or use of blood products.

      • 3 Jemma

        I don’t get it. You may have to spell it out.
        Look I understand that sometime certain things come up unexpectedly, but there is no way to treat PCOS than with hormone treatments? And why is it considered a reproductive issue, just because it has to do with the ovaries? Why not just have it reclassified as a general health issue? I am place bound and I do value education and freedom, but that doesn’t mean that if I choose a school that doesn’t match my values that I am going to go there and demand that they make allowances for me because to me that would be disrespectful. If i were a vegetarian and the people who provided me food and shelter weren’t, I wouldn’t demand that they make separate meals for me. I’d either find a way to provide my own meals or I sacrifice.

      • Actually, the most effective and safest treatment for PCOS is usually hormonal treatment (often in combination with other therapies). The hormone therapy is not reclassified as a general health issue, because most insurance companies see the potential secondary benefit (or most common use) of the medication prescribed and classify it as reproductive health. Could it be reclassified? Yes. Will it be? My guess would be not. Those polices that do cover reproductive health cover it anyway, and it’s easier (and less expensive) for the companies to deny claims on policies that don’t.

        As for being place-bound… imagine being a severe hemophiliac in a place like Berrien Springs, Michigan (pop. approx. 1900, home to Andrews University, an Adventist institution). If you value higher education, and want to make a living in that field, Andrews University is your only option in town (and I suspect it’s the biggest employer, too). The problem is, that someone with severe hemophilia can use hundreds of thousands of dollars in blood products in a year, and as an Adventist institution, Andrews might prefer to not include blood products in their medical benefits package, as the use of blood products is contrary to Adventist teaching (I have no idea if they do). Yes, Berrien Springs is only about 20 miles from South Bend, IN (and Notre Dame), but if you or a family member also need hormonal contraception, that might be an issue as well. Fortunately for our hypothetical person, there would be other possibilities (there are a technical college, and Indiana University South Bend in South Bend), but only if they’re hiring.

        It would be nice if everyone could take the right job with the right employer, but it’s far too common for people to have to take the job that pays the bills despite having reservations about the employer, qualms about particular benefits, or even the job being not the right fit.


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