28 February 2012

Congressional Kabuki Show Returns as a Fluke-y Farce (sic)

Karl Marx argued that “History repeats itself, first as a tragedy then as a farce.”  This axiom came to mind when examining the recent Congressional testimony of Georgetown University Law Student and “reproductive rights activist” Sandra  Fluke.  It is remarkable how strikingly similar Fluke’s mien is to then Lieutenant John F. Kerry (he served in the Vietnam War, you know) when he testified before the Senate in April 1971.

L. Lt. John Kerry @ "Winter Soldier" hearings in 1971 R. Sandra Fluke @ Contraception hearing 2012
Aside from the aesthetics, both Kerry and Fluke allowed themselves to be used to advance their ideological causes.  Kerry was awarded  three Purple Hearts and earned both a Silver Star and a Bronze Star in a month of combat service. But when Kerry returned states-side, he became an anti-war activist. Lt. Kerry was a star witness at former Senator J. William Fullbright (D-AR) Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings against the Vietnam War, in which Kerry presented the conclusions of the Winter Soldier “Investigation”.  To underline his anti-war position, the next day Kerry joined other veterans in throwing medals and ribbons over a fence at the Capitol, although there is some question if Kerry actually threw all of his own awards.

Winter Soldier was actually more of a media event than an investigation.  Kerry’s Senate testimony was more dramatic as this medaled war veteran made some outrageous allegations that augmented a growing anti-war sentiment in the Democrat party which later undercut American efforts in southeastern Asia  When Senator John Kerry (D-MA) was running as the Democrat nominee for President in 2004, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth called into question the veracity of Kerry’s Winter Solider testimony with the explosive war crimes charges.

Kerry’s anti-war Congressional testimony demonstrates how testimony on Capitol Hill can just be a kabuki show instead of real fact finding which uses evocative useful idiots to further larger political aims.

Obama HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius created a political firestorm when she ruled that almost all qualifying health plans under Obamacare must include free contraception coverage, sterilization services and abortifacient drugs.  Religiously affiliated institutions object to being forced to offer services that offend their consciences.  The Obama Administration supposedly offered such affected employers with a  so-called compromise that shifted the costs of the free contraception to insurers.  But the truth of the matter is that the final rule that was released that day did not reflect any changes from this “compromise”.  Moreover, Economics 101 teaches that nothing is free so the costs shifted to insurers would be then assessed to the objecting employers in higher premiums.

To highlight the quandary which religiously affiliated employers and contraception conscientious objectors have with this HHS ruling, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA 49th) held a hearing entitled: "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?" Two Democrat women Committee members, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY 14th) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) dramatically walked out of the hearing because the first panel did not have any women on it.  Had Maloney and Norton stayed for the second panel, they would have witnessed two women testifying.  But then again, those women witnesses would not have counted as they did not support the HHS contraception mandate.

Democrats pressed to have the House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA 6th) choice, reproductive justice lobbyist Sandra Fluke, testify.  To score that propaganda coup, the Democrats, who are the minority party in the House of Representatives, needed to resort to having Fluke be the lone witness at the House Democrat Steering Committee.

Fluke made headlines not only for her notoriety for not having a reproductive justice advocate testify on hearings over religious liberty but for her sensational accusations.

Fluke claims that 40% of her female classmates were “struggling financially” because Georgetown Law would not pay for contraception per its roots as a Catholic Jesuit institution.  Poor law students going broke for so called reproductive freedom.  Really?  Tuition for full time students is $23,434.00 a year.  Accepting Fluke’s contraception contention pro arguendo, it costs female students $1,000 a year to pharmaceutically protect against pregnancy.  Law students attending an elite institution probably spend $3 a day on coffee.  The Weekly Standard points out that oral contraceptives were available for $9 a month, so there is not an economic crunch for "reproductive justice".  However, if one again uses Fluke’s figures, if co-eds used the most economical possible contraception, they must be having unprotected sex three times a day while in law school to incur that expense. Perhaps being lawyer from an elite law school takes lots of practice.

The point of Fluke’s testimony is that any employer ought to offer health coverage for “reproductive rights”.  Of course that requires one to believe that pregnancy is a disease that requires coverage.  Then there is the inconvenient truth that the federal government already pays Planned Parenthood $317 million for reproductive health services (supposedly not including abortion).  It seems that the poor, financially strapped Georgetown Law students would not resort to using Planned Parenthood to prevent pregnancy.

An interesting argument that Fluke posed were instances that contraception was a medically necessary treatment.  She cited the case of a friend who suffers from polycystic ovarian syndrome, which commonly uses contraception as a treatment to prevent cysts from forming.  Unfortunately, several facts undercut this argument.  Firstly, Georgetown allowed for contraception coverage for this medical exception.  Secondly, this might not have been the only treatment for this condition.  Thirdly, Fluke’s friend is a lesbian so there is little chance that she will become pregnant.

Fluke’s testimony concluded her testimony by sharing her resentment suggestions to find alternatives which represented her values in reproductive justice. University administrators offered the common sense suggestion that if contraceptive coverage for students is such an  important criteria for Fluke that she should have enrolled in another institution, even if it was not as prestigious as Georgetown Law.  Fluke fumed:

We refuse to pick between a quality education and our health and we resent that, in the 21st Century, anyone thinks it’s acceptable to ask us to make that choice simply because we are women.

It seems that Ms. Fluke believes that she should not have to sacrifice anything for her values in reproductive justice, but that in the war on the freedom of the free exercise of religion that institutions that conscientiously object should be casualties to her cause.

At least the Fullbright hearings involved important allegations.  As much Sturm und Dram which Democrats drummed up for Fluke’s testimony, her case as a student would not even be covered by the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare.  If she was under 26 then she could be on her parents’ insurance and if not then she could join the public pool.  All that sound and fury yet signifying nothing. Congressional kabuki shows with Kerry first alleging a tragedy then returning with Fluke as a partisan farce.

h/t: HotAir
h/t: CNSNews
h/t: Weekly Standard

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