The country knows Sandra Fluke as the beleaguered third-year Georgetown University Law Center student who has been criticized by conservatives — notably radio giant Rush Limbaugh — for her recent testimony about co-eds’ contraceptive needs before Congressional Democrats.
But the 30-year-old student who stirred the debate is no novice in the political arena. Fluke has a long history of feminist advocacy: The Washington Post reported Fluke entered Georgetown Law well aware that the school’s insurance plan did not cover contraception, only to spend the next three years lobbying the school to change its policy.
Fluke attended Cornell University from 1999-2003, where she received a B.S. in Policy Analysis & Management and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies.
While at Cornell, Fluke’s organized activities centered on the far-left feminist and gender equity movements. Fluke participated in rallies supporting abortion, protests against war in Iraq and efforts to recruit other womens’ rights activists to campus.
During that period, she gained experience engaging in disputes concerning abortion with religious organizations.
“We feel that the information [Cornell Coalition for Life] has out is reactionary, and it’s not based on giving people information about their choices, but manipulating their emotions,” Fluke, then the treasurer of Students Acting for Gender Equality (SAGE), told The Cornell Daily Sun during a protest of a pro-life display at the school’s Ho Plaza. “We want to show people they should have a choice about a decision this important and whatever choice they make, we’ll support it,” she said.
After college, Fluke soon settled in at Sanctuary for Families in New York City, a nonprofit organization devoted to domestic violence victims. Fluke stayed there until she began law school in 2009.
“Sandra Fluke’s professional background in domestic violence and human trafficking began with Sanctuary for Families in New York City. There, she launched the agency’s pilot Program Evaluation Initiative,” her Public Interest Law Scholars (PILS) profile explains. “While at Sanctuary, she co-founded the New York Statewide Coalition for Fair Access to Family Court, which after a twenty-year stalemate, successfully advocated for legislation granting access to civil orders of protection for unmarried victims of domestic violence, including LGBTQ victims and teens. Sandra was also a member of the Manhattan Borough President’s Taskforce on Domestic Violence and numerous other New York City and New York State coalitions that successfully advocated for policy improvements impacting victims of domestic violence.”
During her time as a law student, Fluke has engaged in a variety of internships and activities focused largely on women’s rights. She has served as the development editor for the “Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law,” co-president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice and vice president of the Georgetown Law Women’s Legal Alliance.
Fluke has been using her new national platform to speak out on television, radio and social media on behalf of women who want readily available, free contraception.
“No woman deserves to be disrespected in this manner. This language is an attack on all women, and has been used throughout history to silence our voices,” Fluke posted on Tumblr Thursday in reaction to criticism. “The millions of American women who have and will continue to speak out in support of women’s health care and access to contraception prove that we will not be silenced.”
The victimized co-ed even received a phone call from President Barack Obama in the wake of the onslaught.
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