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.



  • Bill Russell

    Ted Sorensen wrote much of JFK’s inaugural speech. The little bit that Kennedy contributed was, typically, plagiarized. He stole that one line from his headmaster, the Rev. George St. John of Choate School which he attended. Each year the headmaster would tell the boys: “Ask not what your school can do for you. Ask what you can do for your school.” Warren G. Harding used a similar sentence and so did the writer Khalil Gibran a few years before Kennedy’s inauguration. Bobby Kennedy was perhaps a worse “borrower.” His line about “I see things that are not…et c) from George Bernard Shaw were in fact spoken by the Devil in the play “Back to Methuselah.” Had Kennedy actually read his sources, he probably would not have used that.

  • Joe Fuge

    I wouldn’t accept that 98% of sexually active women use contraception. Supposedly 20% of couples are infertile; they’re not using. And a lot of women want children. Don’t be so quick to accept their stats.

  • texan for freedom

    My question for Georgetown and Catholic universities. Why doesn’t the student code of conduct cover activities that the Catholic Church disapproves and calls sin?

    At Brigham Young University part of the code of conduct is chastity; ie a pledge not to have sex outside of marriage. I am shocked that this is not part of the code of conduct at Catholic universities.

    What good is theology of the body, if the code of conduct only covers rape?

  • Sandy

    I beg to differ with your assessment that contraception leads to uncommitted relationships. This is no more true than the converse assertion that birth of babies leads to committed relationships.

    You are welcome to your own religious convictions. You are not welcome to play fast and loose with the facts on broken families, unwed parents, and dissolution of the family unit.

    Finally, to CCWade… just because a woman is a lesbian does not mean she cannot have children or might choose to bear them. The question about removing her ovary is simply stupid and hateful and not very life affirming.

  • Ray

    Preach it, Professor!

  • Marsha

    Prof., I question your statement that sex with contraceptives is irresponsible. That strikes me as a non-sequitor. In other words, it makes no sense, in my opinion. I agree with you that the cost of contraceptives lies with the user but your arguments go astray.

    • Janet E Smith

      I think it is irresponsible to have sex unless one is prepared to have babies. To say that something has gone wrong when sexually active people are having sex is illogical. Sex leads to babies. Contraceptives fail at an alarming rate. And who pays? The babies first and foremost, especially those aborted and those raised by single parents. And the cost to society is very large.



Receive our updates via email.