- Former president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice
- Has been affiliated with Amnesty International, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Georgetown Democrats
- Pushes for all health insurers, including those of religiously affiliated institutions, to provide full coverage for abortifacient pills, sterilizations, contraception, and sex-change operations
Born in 1981, Sandra Fluke graduated from Cornell University in 2003 with bachelor’s degrees in (a) Policy Analysis & Management, and (b) Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. She subsequently worked for six years with the New York City-based Sanctuary for Families, serving victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking.
In 2009 Fluke enrolled at Georgetown Law School. Prior to commencing her legal studies there, she researched the Jesuit university’s healthcare plans for students and found, to her dismay, that they did not cover birth control, abortifacients, or medical abortion procedures. She then enrolled at Georgetown and spent the next three years lobbying the school’s administration to change its policy on the issue.
Also during her stay at Georgetown, Fluke was the development editor of the Journal of Gender and the Law; served as president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice; was vice president of the Women’s Legal Alliance; worked as a family law clerk for the Los Angeles-based Neighborhood Legal Services; was a researcher and writer for the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles; became affiliated with Amnesty International, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Georgetown Democrats; and interned with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, the Polaris Project, and the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Some congressional Democrats invited Fluke to speak at a February 16, 2012 hearing on the constitutionality of the “Obamacare” mandate requiring religiously affiliated hospitals, schools, charities, and other health and social-service agencies to provide “free” abortifacient pills, sterilizations, and contraception on demand in their insurance plans—even if doing so violated their own moral codes and the teachings of their churches. But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), who chaired the hearing, did not permit Fluke to speak, on grounds that Democrats had submitted her name so late as to leave insufficient time for committee members to vet the woman’s credentials.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) continued to push for Fluke to testify before a congressional panel. As a result of the persistence of Maloney and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Fluke testified before an unofficial congressional hearing led by Pelosi on February 23, 2012. Identifying herself as “an American woman who uses contraceptives,” Fluke lamented that many women employed by religiously affiliated entities had “suffered financial, emotional, and medical burdens because of this lack of contraceptive coverage”; that “without insurance coverage, contraception can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school”; that “forty percent of female students at Georgetown Law report struggling financially as a result of this policy”; and that “this policy communicates to female students that our school doesn’t understand our needs.”
Soon after the controversy over contraception and abortifacients had arisen, SKDKnickerbocker, a public-relations agency whose managing director was former White House communications director Anita Dunn, began representing Fluke.
Fluke believes that health insurance policies should be required—on pain of legal action—to pay for sex-change operations. A Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law article which Fluke co-edited with Karen Hu lamented that because of widespread “ignorance and bias against transgender persons,” individuals “wishing to undergo the gender reassignment process frequently face heterosexist employer health insurance policies that label the surgery as cosmetic or medically unnecessary and therefore uncovered.”
On March 20, 2012, Fluke was a guest speaker—along with DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and National Council of Negro Women executive director Avis Jones-DeWeever—at a Women’s History Month forum organized by Eleanor Holmes Norton in Washington, D.C.
In a February 2013 interview with MSNBC, Fluke derided employers who have religious objections to including birth-control coverage in their employee health-insurance plans: “Now if you take a step back and think about that, that’s—you know, you work at a restaurant, you work at a store, and your boss is able to deny you leukemia coverage, or contraception coverage, or blood transfusions, or any number of medical concerns that someone might have a religious objection to. So the folks who are still objecting have some very extreme ideas about religious freedom and employee healthcare in this country.”
Since February 2013, Fluke has chaired the Advocacy Training Program of the National Council of Jewish Women’s Los Angeles chapter. From July through December 2013, she was a Senior Innovation Fellow with the Young Invincibles. And since July 2013, she has been a board member of Emerge California, working to recruit and train Democratic women to run for political office.
In May 2014, Fluke, depicting sexual assault on college campuses as an “epidemic,” co-authored an op-ed in the Huffington Post that vastly overstated the incidence of this offense. Fluke’s piece asserted that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted on campus during their college years.
In November 2014, Fluke ran for a seat in the California State Senate and was defeated by fellow Democrat Ben Allen, by a margin of 60.8% to 39.2%.
Since February 2015, Fluke has been the California State Director of Voices for Progress.”
For additional information on Sandra Fluke, click here.
Further Reading: “Sandra Fluke” (Linkedin.com); “Meet Law Student and Feminist Hero Sandra Fluke” (Daily Caller, 3-3-2012); “Sandra Fluke a Self-Described Professional Pro-Abortion Activist” (LifeNews.com, 3-5-2012); “Sandra Fluke: Life After Rush Limbaugh” (Newsweek, 5-21-2012); “Meet Sandra Fluke: The Woman You Didn’t Hear at Congress’ Contraceptives Hearing (Washington Post, 2-16-2012); “O’Reilly: Former Obama Adviser Anita Dunn’s PS Firm Representing Sandra Fluke” (Daily Caller, 3-8-2012); “Sandra Fluke, Gender Reassignment, and Health Insurance” (Media Research Center, 3-5-2012); “Fluke Back on Capitol Hill (PJ Media, 3-19-2012); “Ending the Epidemic of Sexual Assault” (by Sandra Fluke et al., 5-12-2014).
- Fox News host Bill O’Reilly reasoned that the “Sandra Fluke contraception controversy was manufactured to divert attention away from the Obama administration’s disastrous decision to force [Catholic] organizations to provide insurance coverage for birth control and the ‘morning after’ pill.”
- Rep. Maloney had ties to a progressive pollster, Celinda Lake, whose firm—Lake Research—had recently done work for both Maloney and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Lake also had conducted extensive polling which led her to conclude that if Republican opposition to insurance coverage for birth control could be framed as a “women’s rights” issue, Democrats could add significantly to their political support from female voters.
- Six days later, radio host Rush Limbaugh semi-humorously disparaged Fluke on his program as a “slut” and a “prostitute” who “is having so much sex she can’t afford contraception,” and who “wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.” After Limbaugh’s comments, President Barack Obama, seeing an opportunity to appeal to women voters, called Fluke to express his support for her. According to Fluke, the President “thanked me for helping to amplify the voices of women across the country … Beyond that, he also just wanted to express concern and make sure that I was okay, which I thought was very kind and I assured him I was.” On March 3, Limbaugh posted a statement online in which he publicly apologized to Fluke for his “insulting word choices.” Appearing on ABC’s The View two days later, Fluke said that Limbaugh’s apology was insufficient.
- The Daily Caller provided some context for Fluke’s claim: “The data underpinning the 1-in-5 statistic has repeatedly been called into question by those who study the issue, such as the American Enterprise Institute’s Christina Hoff Sommers. According to Sommers, the study that produced the 1-in-5 statistic polled a small group of women at two colleges, and inferred that they had been raped based on their answers to questions about drinking and sex.” Meanwhile, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that the overall rate of rape in the U.S. is 1.8 per 1,000 women each year, or about 96.4% lower than the rate cited by Fluke.