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Obama backs ‘slut’ row student

Washington, March 3(Reuters): President Barack Obama called a law student yesterday to express his support after she was branded a “slut” by controversial Right-wing talk-show host Rush Limbaugh for her outspoken support of Obama’s new policy on contraception coverage.        

Sandra Fluke, a 30-year old student and women’s rights activist at Georgetown University in Washington, has been caught in the middle of a contentious election-year fight between Obama and Republicans over the policy, which requires health insurance plans to cover contraception.

Religious-affiliated organisations, the Roman Catholic Church and social conservatives have protested Obama’s new policy as an infringement on religious liberty. An effort by Republicans in the Senate to overturn it failed this week.

House of Representatives speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, distanced his party from Limbaugh’s comments. A spokesman for Boehner called them “inappropriate”.

Fluke has spoken out against the Republican effort to scrap the birth control policy and advocated making contraception available to all women, drawing fire from Limbaugh and some other conservative commentators.        

In an interview, Fluke told Reuters she was initially hurt, then outraged by Limbaugh’s remarks, but said she hoped the incident had raised awareness about the new policy.       

She said had received “an avalanche” of supportive emails from women and men around the US, including many from women who said they needed contraception to respond to medical conditions such as seizures, not just to prevent pregnancy.

The President called “to offer his support and thank me for helping to make heard the voices of all the women who will benefit from this regulation”, Fluke said.

“He just wanted to clearly express his distaste for the types of comments that have been made about me. He was very kind.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama thinks Limbaugh’s comments were reprehensible.       

“It is disappointing that those kinds of personal and crude attacks could be leveled against someone like this young law school student, who was simply expressing her opinion on a matter of public policy,” Carney said.       

The Obama campaign for the November election has made the contraception issue a rallying cry to attract women voters, who helped Obama win the presidency in 2008. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says it has raised $1.6 million since Fluke testified on Capitol Hill last week.       

Obama’s policy originally required all employers that provide health insurance except for houses of worship and churches to supply coverage for women's contraceptives.

 
 
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