Ask not what you can do for your country… ask what your country can do for you!

Although President Kennedy’s own sexual life was, sorry to say, despicable (e.g., most recently Once Upon a Secret), this plea during his inauguration speech was stirring: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” One initiative provoked by this sentiment was the establishment of the Peace Corps where idealistic young people sacrificed two years of their lives to help people in impoverished countries.

Now President Obama makes a personal phone call to Ms Sandra Fluke to congratulate her for speaking out on behalf of health care plans that supply contraceptives.  Faculty, staff and administrators at Georgetown and other schools issued a statement lauding her for her courage. Oh my. Why does a plea for something that enables sex without responsibility count as an act of courage? And this by a young women destined to make a huge salary after she graduates from a Catholic law school. Courage! That is what is displayed by soldiers who are willing to lay down their lives for their country. It sounds a whole lot more like unmitigated gall and narcissistic entitlement to me, than courage.

I don’t think Rush Limbaugh was right to call Ms Fluke a slut but what would we call a young man who made a similar plea? How well received would be the testimony of a young man who complained that health care plans won’t pay for his condoms? Actually condoms are more accurately preventive means than are contraceptives. Contraceptives prevent something that is not a disease – pregnancy – while making women more susceptible to real diseases such as sexually transmitted diseases and some forms of cancer, not to mention migraines, depression, etc.  Condoms do reduce the incidence of some sexually transmitted diseases, or at least delay the transmission. For both men and women. So a government program funding free condoms makes a whole lot more sense than a government program funding contraceptives for women. (Of course, I oppose both, for many reasons.  The risk factor alone is daunting. Contraceptives fail 8.7% 0f the time; condoms up to 25%.  That is foolish risk-taking in my view.)

Ms Fluke tells us that it would cost her $3000 to pay for her contraceptives during her graduate studies. Many have asked where she gets that figure.  The duration of law school studies is generally three years. Is going to Planned Parenthood beneath her? These are the costs given on the Planned Parenthood website: Depoprovera costs $35-75$ and last 3 months. the pill at about $15-20 a month; Norplant costs $400-$800 but lasts up to 3 years.  Ms. Fluke is most likely taking out giant loans for her graduate studies. She is not expecting us to pay for her text books or subway tickets, trips home or beer (well, probably wine). But she is expecting a Catholic school to pay for her contraceptives and if Obama gets his way, everyone will be paying for everyone’s contraception. Studies show that 98% of sexually active women from 15-44 have used contraception. It seems like it must be pretty easily available! Poor women can get contraceptives from Medicaid. Obamacare is going to require that all insurance plans provide contraceptives for free. We all know that means the costs of contraceptives will be spread out across payments for other health care treatments.  And so everyone will be paying for contraceptives … and it means that the poor are paying for what the rich can afford to pay for themselves.

Fluke tells a heart wrenching story of a lesbian friend who needs the hormones available in the contraceptive pills to treat her polycystic ovarian syndrome and who lost the use of one ovary because of lack of access to contraception (I hate to say it, but a little investigative journalism might be in order here to verify this story!) Certainly health care plans should pay for such treatment and if they don’t that should be fixed.  But it is shameless for Fluke to piggy back on her friend’s legitimate health care needs to coerce others into paying for her elective contraceptives. And where were the friends of her lesbian friend?  Couldn’t they help out with the costs of the hormones until the insurance claims were straightened out? I have friends who make great sacrifices to help ill friends with health care costs. Giving up going to Starbucks, Netflix, or designer boots would probably yield enough funds to help a needy friend.

Moreover, Ms. Fluke maintains that contraception is necessary for the equality of men and women. Oh how randy college men must love that claim! Yes, I know women like sex but generally women also like committed relationships and contraception facilitates uncommitted relationships. Limbaugh was wrong to call Fluke a prostitute. That is objectionable but also imprecise. Fluke is the one paying the price! She is paying for the contraceptives, paying the health risks, paying the risk of an unwanted pregnancy, a possible abortion, possible single parenthood, possible truncated dreams. I hope the young man (men?) at least pays for dinner! But being a feminist Fluke probably insists on paying for half – or all — of dinner as well.



  • Lynn

    I have 2 daughters who have polycystic ovarian syndrome – they aren’t gonna get any help paying for treatment. They both desperately want to have children, but will probably have trouble. Maybe if they were lesbians instead of straight…

  • Pingback: Janet E. Smith's Sexual Common Sense » “Ask not what you can do for your country; ask what your country can do for you.”

  • Dave

    This isn’t about the right to use contraception or even the availability of same. If 98% of sexually active women of child bearing age are taking them access and availability apparently is not a problem. The issue is the right of a Catholic University, Hospital, school or whatever to adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church, which right is guaranteed by the 1st Amendment, without the government “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In this respect I would note that there is no constitutional right to contraception (no Griswold v Connecticut did not say otherwise) and certainly no right to have your contraception paid for by someone else. This isn’t a fight about contraception but about religious freedom.

    • gnarley binkins

      If 98% of Catholic women at a Catholic university use contraception, and that may very well be the case, does that make them “sluts”? BTW, most people now do pay at least partially and at an increasing rate over time for their health care. Really, you are arguing about something that about 98% of women do whether you like it or not. It’s a losing argument. It’s making the Church look silly. And as far as the article below goes, who’s winning *this* battle? By a landslide and then some majority:98%.

      • Everett

        You apparently aren’t familiar with the significant flaws in that statistic. The statistic should actually be 87% of Catholic women who are sexually active and trying to avoid pregnancy. The 98% includes 11% who list their method as other, which clearly is not contraception. The majority of Catholic women who are sexually active should not be actively trying to avoid pregnancy. So, they’re already ignoring Church teaching, no wonder they don’t care about contraceptives. Additonally, a large number of the women in the survey who self-identified as Catholics stated that they attend mass less than every Sunday, which again shows that they already ignore Church teaching, and little surprise that they ignore this one too. And lastly, the survey obviously ignores women who are not sexually active (as anyone unmarried should be doing). So, the 87% (not 98%) is a number that is not indicative of the overall Catholic population, but of a limited slice of the Catholic population, many of whom are already choosing to disregard Catholic teachings in many areas of their lives, and many faithful Catholics are automatically excluded from the survey, like my wife, since we are not trying to avoid pregnancy.

      • mary

        So the Church should change it’s 2,000 year old teaching to make the 98% feel better? I bet 100% of Catholic students lie, overeat, put school before God, do not honor their parents, let their minds wander during Mass, and do not do corporal acts of mercy. Should the Church abandon those teachings as well?

  • Brian A. Cook
  • slopoke

    Just because somebody uses contraceptives doesn’t make them irresponsible. Maybe sinful according to Catholic teaching, but not necessarily irresponsible. If they are not Catholic, it would be reasonable to consider such a choice responsible.

    Men can pick up free condoms all over the place, so I can’t imagine any man complaining about lack of access. And I don’t think that if a man made such a complaint, he’s be called a slut.

    Contraceptives have also been shown to reduce certain cancer risks.

    And yes, as noted, studies show that 98% of sexually active women from 15-44 have used contraception. Catholics not excluded.

    Finally, please do some investigation into the story about Ms. Fluke’s lesbian friend.

    • christie

      Do you agree with Ms. Fluke that contraception is necessary to make us equal to a man?

      ‘Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”‘
      – Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Revie

      You do know that there is a CV blog on the 98% claim? Check it out. To refute the 98% claim, in my family alone are 4 Catholic women who do not use contraception. (Of course we were not included in the pole.)In my family only 50% of the women are sexually active. Of that 50% , 0% use contraception. My study shows that 0% of women use contraception. You see what I’m saying, right?

      100% of the women from 15-44 are not sexually active. Of the number of women who are sexually active, there is a significant percentage who want to get pregnant. There is a significant percentage who are not sexually active. There is a growing percentage of women and men who are embracing the teaching of Theology of the Body. Even among those who are sexually active and do not want to get pregnant there is a percentage who do nothing for contraception. This would explain the high rate of children born out of wedlock and 1.4 million babies being aborted each year.

      • faithful democrat

        There might be a growing number of men and women choosing not to use contraceptives, but 98% is still a massive majority. You can’t use a miniscule group in the 2% to refute the reality. Of course, there are blogs that attempt to refute all sorts of realities. Do you really believe that a similar majority of abortions come about because of faulty contraceptives?

  • Loretta

    Dr. Smith,
    Nice article but Rush was right calling her a slut! What do you call a woman who testified that she is having so much sex she cant afford contraception. She testified she was having a lot of sex. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck its a duck or in Ms. Fluke’s case a slut.

    • Brian A. Cook

      Is that what she is? Just a “slut” and not a person? And some wonder why the Church is accused of warring on women.

      • KT1

        From Wikipedia:

        Slut or slattern is a term applied to an individual who is considered to have loose sexual morals or who is sexually promiscuous.

      • toledo bill

        1) I wouldn’t use the word to describe anyone,
        2) Sluts, by definition, are people,
        3) Just because a woman comments her opinion on the meaning of the word Slut and then uses the word to describe a woman in college who admits to having a lot of sex, that is proof positive the male dominated hierarchy of the Catholic Church is out to get women. Is that your point? Really?

        • Brian A. Cook

          No, I am simply trying to point out that people are not to be put into neat little boxes. Perhaps my wording was poor as usual.

          • TKS

            Add to that, her statement was on her friend, who needed the contraceptives to fight ovarian cancer. She was denied access to this treatment because her student insurance did not cover contraceptives, which resulted in her losing her ovary to the cancer.

            Talk about being a whore.

          • girl

            Contraceptives are not used to fight ovarian cancer. I believe her friend had PCOS. That is not cancer.

        • JLD

          Its male dominated for a reason. Its not out to “get women”. Adam was the first father of all mankind. Jesus Christ became the New Adam. The priest is Altus Christi (Another Chirst). Jesus was a man. Women cannot be men or fathers thus women cannot be priests. And the actual term we Catholics like is Patriachry…get over it.

      • Antonio A. Badilla

        Did the Church, some bishop, priest, or deacon or even a lay person called Fluke a “slut?” No, no one did within the Church since Rush is not a Roman Catholic, so why are you blaming the Church for something the Church did not do? Furthermore, Dr. Smith didn’t call her that either, so, what’s your beef?

      • Richard


        It was not the Church who called her a slut. I’m pretty sure the Church would disagree with name calling as much as with promiscuity.

    • Karen T

      Defend Religious Liberty. Sign The Manhattan Declaration.



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