Rush Limbaugh Doesn’t Understand Birth Control

But Wants To Vilify Those Who Use It

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Let’s set aside differences with Rush Limbaugh on political grounds. Let’s look at pure, provable facts only for a moment. Even the most ardent of Limbaugh fans should be critical of his statements recently, if not out of decency, then out of a love of truth and accuracy. One of the biggest problems with Limbaugh’s slandering of Sandra Fluke is that he is also misinforming all his listeners, and in doing so could endanger the health of some people who listen to him and believe his outlandish, Dark Ages claims.

If Sandra Fluke had been talking about condoms, rather than birth control pills, Limbaugh’s assertion that she wanted someone to pay for her to have sex might hold just a little bit of water. (It would fall apart on several other fronts, but to those another time.) The biggest error Limbaugh makes is that he equates taking “birth control pills” with having sex. And, that is absolutely misinformed and ignorant.

The problem here is that these medications are commonly marketed and referred to as “birth control” when, in reality, they are hormone therapies. As such, they a have a wide array of common uses apart from preventing pregnancy. These are not rare, occasional applications, either. They are frequently-prescribed uses for “The Pill”.

A basic definition of how birth control pills work, from WebMD.

Hormonal contraceptives (the pill, the patch, and the vaginal ring) all contain a small amount of synthetic estrogen and progestin hormones. These hormones work to inhibit the body’s natural cyclical hormones to prevent pregnancy… Hormonal contraceptives also change the cervical mucus to make it difficult for the sperm to find an egg.

Due to the presence of the hormones in the pills, they are widely used to treat such conditions as:

    Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
    Absence of periods (for various reasons)
    Menstrual cramps
    Premenstrual syndrome
    Heavy menstrual periods
    Prevention of anemia

Limbaugh’s lack of knowledge on this, or lack of caring to inform his listeners, has caused him to do something very dangerous: he has mischaracterized users of birth control pills as promiscuous, immoral and free-loaders. This is made even worse when you consider that much of what Sandra Fluke actually said before that House panel had nothing to do with pregnancy or sex. If you have not read her comments yourself, take a moment to form an educated opinion on this matter. Among her comments she said:

We are all grateful for the new regulation that will meet the critical health care needs of so many women.

Just last week, a married female student told me that she had to stop using contraception because she and her husband just couldn’t fit it into their budget anymore.

A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome, and she has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries. Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown’s insurance because it’s not intended to prevent pregnancy. Unfortunately, under many religious institutions and insurance plans, it wouldn’t be. There would be no exception for other medical needs… For my friend and 20% of the women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription. Despite verifications of her illness from her doctor, her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted birth control to prevent pregnancy. She’s gay. So clearly polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy for her.

One woman told us doctors believe she has endometriosis, but that can’t be proven without surgery. So the insurance has not been willing to cover her medication – the contraception she needs to treat her endometriosis.

Recently, another woman told me that she also has polycystic ovarian syndrome and she’s struggling to pay for her medication and is terrified to not have access to it.

Many of the women whose stories I’ve shared today are Catholic women. So ours is not a war against the church. It is a struggle for the access to the health care we need.

In fact, one of the most damning pieces of evidence is what Ms. Fluke did not mention: her own desire for pregnancy prevention. In fact, for all Rush Limbaugh could know from her statements, Ms. Fluke could be celibate. He insulted her with no regard for the content of her statements. Rather, he said she went “before a congressional committee and essentially [said] that she must be paid to have sex.” She said nothing that could even remotely be construed to mean that. She spoke about diseases and the needs of others.

Rush Limbaugh’s half-hearted apology, which he amended to mean that he wished he hadn’t sounded like ” a liberal”, missed the point as badly as his original statement. No one wants him to pay for anyone’s contraception. They want the insurance that they themselves pay for to do it.

Limbaugh should do more than apologize. He should readdress the issue and set the record straight after he actually reads the testimony. Or, he can push play below.

Rush Limbaugh Doesn’t Understand Birth Control
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  • dwoo2

    Setting aside what Rush Limbaugh said or even Ms. Fluke, most of you all are missing the central issues of the case. And here is the central question: do institutions and businesses have the right to decide what benefits to offer its members or employees? If I am opening a hamburger stand, for example, do I, as the owner of the stand have the right to decide what benefits to offer the person I hire to run the stand? I would hope the answer is obvious. Of course I do; it’s my stand. OK, so let’s say I create a benefits package that does not include paid holidays. I am an Ebineezer Scrooge, and it literally pains me to pay somebody for not working. So my benefits package does not include paid holidays. Let’s say I hire someone, and they agree to work for me for the pay and benefits I offer. Let’s say this same employee has a financial hardship at home and needs extra cash to meet a legitimate need. Should he be able to petition the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT to create a law FORCING me to pay his holidays so he can get the cash he needs to meet budget? How does that even begin to make sense? It truly scares me that there are some of you that are saying yes, he absolutely should have the government make a law. That’s truly scary to me. Is this where our country has come to?

    • frazzledazzle

      Where do I start with this one. First off there already is Federal and State law regarding your employee’s wages, it’s called the Minimum Wage law and from it comes the establishment of the poverty level. As far as the holidays, you are not dealing in reality. I am not sure what you mean by “petition the federal government”. Laws are created not from petition but through the legislative process. And depending on your business it just might be a money loser to work certain holidays while everyone else is closed. The impetus behind the ACA law is to provide every American with basic health insurance. Being the only developed nation to not have this basic provision for every citizen is quite disturbing for many of us. The recent spat between the administration and the Catholic Church brings into focus one tenet that the administration is trying to standardize. The law seeks to provide universal guidelines for the application of the program. If ‘exceptions’ have to be parceled out for every special interest group the program will become too convoluted and unmanageable, which might be advantageous for those who want to repeal the law. It is not out of reason to have some business come forward and claim exclusion because they claim their ‘religion’ is totally faith-based to the point that their ideology holds that they ‘pray’ their way through appendectomies, broken limbs, major lacerations and cancers. Upholding their exclusion would allow them to provide no coverage for their 50+ employees. One argument that is constantly bantered about in disdain is in regards to a discussion of the NAFTA agreement, that the U.S. never competed on a level playing field. By applying the ACA law consistently across the board all U.S. business will be at the same level as their domestic competitors. We can talk about off-shore competitors in a different forum (that will bring us back to the faulty NAFTA agreement.)

  • I’m sick too

    I’m diabetic and have high blood pressure. I spend over $290 a month for my meds. If, as is claimed in this story, the issue is for all these other medical needs is to have free prescriptions available for “womans health”, why not mine? Why isn’t cancer drugs made free to all who need them, why don’t they decree that all prescription drugs are made available to anyones medical condition? Why is it just contriceptive drugs? It’s because it’s not about womans health! It’s about pro life vs Pro abortion, right vs left, repub vs dem! Just more smoke and mirrors for goverment control of everones personal health care! Once they have the ability to give it to you for free, then they will have the ability to ration it as they see fit!

    • frazzledazzle

      No one said they were to be offered free, where did that come from? They would be handled the same as any other prescription, with the co-pay, deductible and the rest of the restrictions and conditions of other drugs.

  • frazzledazzle

    For starters this Congressional testimony was given in response to insurance companies providing birth control and not the government. Students at Georgetown pay an insurance premium for a policy that is underwritten by United Health Care. The vast majority of studies clearly indicate that birth control is cheaper to provide than pre- and post-natal care – that’s pretty much a no brainer. It doesn’t take much common sense to recognize that paying for a prescription for pills is cheaper than hospital bills that include hospital stays, surgery and several associated charges – and then not once, but conceivably (no pun intended) every 10 – 12 months. As to the “having so much sex…..” statement by Limbaugh, how did that evolve from the testimony that Miss Fluke gave? Well as it turns out it doesn’t evolve from her at all. It evolved from some twisted individual that took the $3000 out of pocket that a female must pay over a 3 – 4 year period for birth control. (This is possibly a somewhat inflated valuation but it is not totally out of reason.) This sad individual calculated that a cut rate prescription for birth control could be had for some ridiculously low amount and that left a sizable amount of the $3000 left over for a whole bunch of condoms. Through the eyes of Mr. Limbaugh it must be the case that Miss Fluke must be having “so much sex….” that she would have trouble walking. Twisted, morally despicable – I am at a loss for how loathsome this is. To have slandered this woman for three days and create this putrid scenario and spew it over the public air waves of the United States of America has to be the most vile example of sexist hate speech I could have never imagined. I also thought that is was curious that one of the counter arguments for sourcing birth control medication (in lieu of the insurance companies or the government providing it) that was put forward by several conservative talking heads was Planned Parenthood. They actually cited Planned Parenthood as a current and future source for birth control medication – the same Planned Parenthood organization that they are trying to disassemble and abolish – what a paradox!

  • http://yahoo dan valascho

    this is a giant red herring; who is trying to ban birth control (of any kind) – no one? On a larger scale: why? when the economy struggles, gas is near 5 bux, unemployment is near record highs, wars are taking many soldiers lives, the debt is at an all time high – 16 trillion, riots are happening worldwide (including some US cities, ie OWS), families are disintegrating, welfare is an all time high, more people get gubmint assistance (ave handout 33k) than tax payers put in (ave income 32.5k), drugs are rampant, illegal immigration is a major problem, cities are crumbling, budgets are busting all over the place, taxes are stifling, housing is barely crawling, etc etc. did N Pelosi drag this woman from a Catholic university to testify before congress??? Maybe, because it’s the only way BO can provide a red herring and find a wedge issue (when there isn’t really -since no republican proposes banning contraception) and raise his abominable poll numbers while once again vilifying his political opponents.
    if you listen to Rush you would know that he is an expert at exposing absurdity by being absurd, ie video comment..

  • T Gibb

    If as the author contends, a person is using birth control pills for some other hormonal therapy other than birth control, then the prescription would be covered as a treatment for that issue, not as birth control and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    To me this is not even a sexual issue, it is simply an issue of why would some things be free of co-pay and others not? I think one could make the arguement that there should be no co-pay on cancer treatments or some other life saving prescription. What on earth makes birth control so awfully important that we must remove any co-pay?

  • Haley

    This isn’t about us paying for others contraception!!!! It’s about our insurance that we ALREADY pay for, paying for hormones that some women need for other reasons than contraception! LISTEN

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