How Georgetown Can (And Should) Stick Up For Sandra Fluke

Our Guest Blogger is Reid Setzer, an Intern at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and a student at Georgetown Law

Earlier today, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia issued a letter to members of the Georgetown community supporting Georgetown University Law Student Sandra Fluke and criticizing those who responded to her testimony by labeling her a “slut” or a “prostitute”:

In recent days, a law student of Georgetown, Sandra Fluke, offered her testimony regarding the proposed regulations by the Department of Health and Human Services before a group of members of Congress. She was respectful, sincere, and spoke with conviction. She provided a model of civil discourse. This expression of conscience was in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people. One need not agree with her substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression. And yet, some of those who disagreed with her position – including Rush Limbaugh and commentators throughout the blogosphere and in various other media channels – responded with behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.

The Dean of Georgetown Law School, William M. Treanor, also issued a letter to the Law Center community in support of Ms. Fluke, labeling the vile statements made about her as “the basest sort of name-calling and vilification, words that aim only to belittle and intimidate.” The letter was signed by the majority of the faculty of the Law Center, as well as Father Alexei Michalenko of the Law Center Campus Ministry.

DeGioia, Treanor and their colleagues all deserve credit for standing by Fluke. Yet they are hardly going out on a limb by saying it is unacceptable to compare a woman seeking contraceptive treatment to a prostitute. Presently, Georgetown’s health plans provide contraceptive coverage for faculty members and staff, but they deny the very same coverage to most students. In the wake of these comments, DeGioia and the leadership should take the logical next step of ensuring that she enjoys the very same coverage as her professors.


The law faculty letter has now been posted in full at Georgetown Law’s website:

The undersigned faculty members, administrators and students of Georgetown University Law Center and other law schools strongly condemn the recent personal attacks on our student, Sandra Fluke. Ms. Fluke has had the courage to publicly defend and advocate for her beliefs about an important issue of widespread concern. She has done so with passion and intelligence. And she has been rewarded with the basest sort of name-calling and vilification, words that aim only to belittle and intimidate. As scholars and teachers who aim to train public-spirited lawyers, no matter what their politics, to engage intelligently and meaningfully with the world, we abhor these attacks on Ms. Fluke and applaud her strength and grace in the face of them.

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