- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rush Limbaugh has been forced to deliver a humiliating apology for epithets he used against Sandra Fluke, a liberal activist and Georgetown law student. The apology comes as President Obama and the liberal media desperately try to paint Ms. Fluke as a victim of conservative male chauvinism - the latest casualty in a Republican “war on women.” According to the Democrats’ hysteria, women are being relegated to the Dark Ages. In fact, the opposite is true: Anti-Christian, anti-Catholic bigotry is rearing its ugly head, and it must be stopped.

Recently, Ms. Fluke testified at a House subcommittee in front of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The activist claimed that she and other women face discrimination on a daily basis. The reason: Georgetown refuses to provide free contraceptive services as part of its student health care coverage. Ms. Fluke claimed that birth-control pills could cost female students as much as $3,000 by the time they graduate from law school, roughly $1,000 a year - a financially crushing burden. On behalf of “reproductive justice,” Ms. Fluke says that this assault on women should end. Mrs. Pelosi and the feminist lobby agree: Georgetown must comply with the new Obamacare contraceptive mandate and provide Ms. Fluke free birth control.

Ms. Fluke, however, is wrong. There is no crushing burden being imposed on women. Female students can go to nearby drug stores and discounters to purchase prescription birth control medication for $10 to $20 per month - a far cry from $1,000 a year. In fact, even without insurance, women can buy birth control pills for as little as $9 per month at a local Target.

Moreover, Ms. Fluke acknowledges she could have gone to numerous law schools. Yet she deliberately selected Georgetown because it is a historic Catholic university that continues to uphold the church’s teachings on contraception. From the outset her goal has been to overturn the university’s policy on birth control coverage. It’s a major reason she is at Georgetown. Ms. Fluke is not a victim; rather, she sought out this confrontation in order to dismantle Catholic institutions. She is part of the secular left’s war on Christianity.

The national debate on contraception is so disconnected from reality that it would be laughable if the consequences were not so tragic. The claim that Republicans are preventing women from access to birth control is risible. Condoms, the morning-after pill, oral contraceptives - they can be purchased almost anywhere (local grocery stores, pharmacies, giant retail outlets, public bathrooms). Planned Parenthood gives them away. Nine out of 10 health plans already cover contraception and sterilization procedures. Birth control is almost as ubiquitous as junk food. If a male law student wants to have safe sex, then he can purchase a condom. Why should contraception be different for women? If Ms. Fluke wants to have sex, then take the personal responsibility to pay for it. It’s called growing up. Georgetown has the right not to subsidize behavior it believes to be immoral and unethical.

At the core of her argument, Ms. Fluke claims that her desire for birth control trumps the religious freedom of a Christian institution. She is saying that having sex without getting pregnant is more important than the conscience rights of the Catholic Church. This is progressive tyranny, a form of liberal bigotry against Christians who abide by the teachings of their faith. The Church believes that contraception is wrong because it leads to sexual permissiveness, family breakdown and demographic collapse. Whether you agree or not is irrelevant; the Church has the right to determine its fundamental doctrine. Liberals, however, are seeking to coerce Christians into bowing at the altar of the secular state. This is a fundamental assault on democratic pluralism - the right of different religions to practice their beliefs unmolested by Big Brother or fascist feminists.

As for Mr. Limbaugh, he was wrong to call Ms. Fluke nasty names. He has rightly apologized. Women (and men) are paying a high price for embracing the personal liberation at the heart of modern feminism. They are being transformed into sexual objects, promoting promiscuous behavior that ends in individual misery and spiritual emptiness for both genders. Ms. Fluke is selling New Age snake oil.

Moreover, there are shameless hypocrites on the left. Mr. Obama called Ms. Fluke to sympathize with her plight after she was attacked by Mr. Limbaugh. Liberals, however, were largely silent when HBO’s Bill Maher used much more demeaning language to smear Sarah Palin or when MSNBC’s Ed Schultz vilified Laura Ingraham. In fact, Mr. Maher has given about $1 million to Mr. Obama’s super PAC. The left is demanding that advertisers drop their support for Mr. Limbaugh’s talk show; none have called for Mr. Obama’s team to return Mr. Maher’s money. The reason for the double standard is simple: Mrs. Palin and Ms. Ingraham are conservative Christians. Hence, demonizing them is fair game.

Discrimination is alive and well in America - and especially prevalent throughout the Democratic Party and among its allies. Christians are routinely mocked. Their symbols and beliefs are denigrated. The Catholic Church’s institutions - schools, hospitals, charities, universities - are being persecuted. Soft totalitarianism creeps in through a liberal witch hunt conducted against those who dissent from the secular credo. Christians and every American should beware: Big Brother is on the march and will soon be knocking on your door.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.