Former WLALA Public Interest Grant Recipient in the Spotlight of the Contraceptive Coverage Debate
Sandra Fluke, a third-year Georgetown law student and 2010 recipient of the WLALA Foundation’s Fran Kandel Public Interest Grant, testified on the topic of contraceptive coverage before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on February 23, 2012, one week after Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) prevented her from testifying as the Democrats’ sole witness before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Ms. Fluke is a former President and Secretary and current member of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice and has been actively involved in advocating for contraceptive coverage at Georgetown University and elsewhere. Georgetown, a Catholic and Jesuit institution, does not cover contraception in its student health plan, and female students are obligated to pay for contraception themselves, which can cost them over $3,000 during law school, according to Ms. Fluke’s testimony.
The recent Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage regulation provides that all non-exempt religiously-affiliated institutions must offer coverage for contraception but obligates an insurance company, rather than the religiously-affiliated institution, to pay for the contraception if the religiously-affiliated institution objects to doing so. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on this new regulation on February 16, 2012, and the Democratic members were permitted to have one witness testify. The Democratic members chose Ms. Fluke as their witness, but Chairman Issa refused to let her testify, claiming that she was not “qualified.” As a result, the Democratic members did not have any witness testify, and only male witnesses testified at the hearing, despite the particular significance for women of the issue of contraceptive coverage.
On February 23, Ms. Fluke finally was able to testify before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. Although the House Recording Studio did not record the hearing, C-SPAN did. Ms. Fluke testified at the hearing that students who have been denied contraceptive coverage, as well as employees of religiously-affiliated hospitals and universities, “are all grateful for the new regulation that will meet the critical health care needs of so many women.” To read Ms. Fluke’s testimony, please click here. To view a video of the hearing, including Ms. Fluke’s testimony, please click here.
For her Fran Kandel Public Interest Grant project, Ms. Fluke prepared a video in both English and Spanish that guides victims of domestic violence through the process of obtaining a restraining order pro se. To view her video, please click here. Ms. Fluke continues to work diligently to promote this video and to ensure that it is distributed as widely as possible in the Greater Los Angeles area.