The target of these attacks was Sandra Fluke, who spoke as a witness during a hearing of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on February 23. During the hearing, Fluke testified in favor of insurance coverage for contraceptive healthcare. When you let university administrators or other employees, rather than women and their doctors, dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose aren't, a woman's health takes a back seat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body, she said.
Limbaugh's response: What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute... She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We're the pimps.
This isn't the first time Limbaugh has lashed out at proponents of contraceptive insurance coverage. On Monday, he blasted NASCAR driver Danica Patrick for voicing her support, adding, What do you expect from a woman driver?
Sandra Fluke attracted national attention when she was denied the chance to speak at a House committee hearing on February 16. The hearing, called Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience? was organized by House Republicans to discuss President Barack Obama's mandate requiring insurance coverage for contraceptive healthcare.
The conflict arose after Democrats -- who had been expected to nominate one member of the panel -- initially chose the Americans United for Separation of Church and State Executive Director Barry Lynn. They later changed that decision and nominated Fluke instead. Republican committee chairman Darrell Issa rejected the choice, claiming that Fluke's nomination came too late. Those in support of insured contraceptive care thereby found themselves without a representative on the panel, and several angry Democrats stormed out of the hearing.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi later convened the Democratic hearing, at which Fluke got her chance to testify.
House Representative Carolyn Maloney had harsh words for Limbaugh. She was present at the House committee hearing on February 16, where she angrily contested Issa's decision to reject Fluke's testimony. In a statement released on Wednesday, she called Limbaugh's attack a new low in a season of lows. Anyone on the other side of the aisle...who stands silent signals by their silence approval of such language. If you wish to declare an all-out war on women, then stand silently by and let this pass. Or you can call this man out for what he is and demonstrate that there is some honor left, even in politics.
Though Obama has already issued the controversial mandate for contraceptive coverage, the debate is far from over. Limbaugh has high hopes for Thursday's vote on a new Senate bill to override the mandate. The so-called Blunt Amendment, named for sponsoring Republican Senator Roy Blunt, would give employers the right to refuse insurance coverage for healthcare services they object to on moral or religious grounds.
Update: It was announced early on Thursday afternoon that the Blunt Amendment was defeated by the Senate in a 51-48 vote.