One of the most highly anticipated speeches at the 2012 Democratic National Convention will be delivered tonight by women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke.
Fluke became famous when she testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the urgent need for affordable access to contraception — leading to an angry attack on her character by right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh, who referred to Fluke as a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Since that unfortunate incident (which cost Limbaugh a significant chunk of corporate sponsorships,) Fluke has become one of America’s highest profile women’s health advocates. She is also a key supporter of President Barack Obama, as shown by tonight’s high profile speech.
Fluke sat down with The National Memo following a luncheon panel sponsored by The Huffington Post to preview her speech and explain the crucial issues at stake.
“I’m going to try to make it very clear what choice we’re facing in November — especially for women — and what the consequences will be if we make the wrong choice in this election,” Fluke told me. “The most clear, compelling way that I think I can do that is to talk about the record of President Obama and the record of Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan on women’s health, women’s economic security, violence against women,” and other critical issues affecting women.
In her speech, Fluke promises to touch upon “the major victories that President Obama has delievered for women, and the ways that he has stood with us in the past four years.”
One of those major victories is the Affordable Care Act, which according to Fluke “ushers in an amazing new era for women’s health” through its provision of free access to breast cancer screenings, domestic violence screenings, and a host of other critical health services. Fluke’s decision to highlight health care reform reinforces one of the lessons from last night’s convention speeches: Obamacare has long since ceased to be a dirty word in the Democratic Party.
Another aspect of President Obama’s record to which Fluke intends to draw attention is his support of Planned Parenthood, which is the primary healthcare provider for many women. “The president has stood up for Planned Parenthood when their funding for breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings, and prenatal care has been slashed or attempted to be slashed,” said Fluke, “and he has stood up for Title X funding that keeps those clinics open and providing for women.”
In Fluke’s opinion, women’s health fits right in to the 2012 campaign’s dominant theme: the economy. Fluke said that women’s health is “absolutely” an economic issue, and “more importantly, women consider their health to be an economic issue.”
“Women know that the cost of healthcare has a big impact on whether or not the family is financially stable,” Fluke argued, “so if a family has the security to know that a healthcare crisis is not going to bankrupt them the next day, that is going to have a big impact on their economic security.”
She also had a word of warning for the Republican Party, which she says has made its priorities “very clear” through the “staggering amount of bills in legislatures across the country — and especially in the House of Representatives — to limit women’s access to health care.”
“That party is at risk if they continue to champion these antiquated views,” she said, and “women in this country are at risk if they continue to vote that way.”
Fluke will speak at the 9pm hour of the convention tonight; you can watch her address live on The National Memo.