Right-wing radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Feb. 28, 2009. (UPI Photo/Alexis C. Glenn) | License Photo
WASHINGTON, March 2 (UPI) -- President Obama Friday called the law student Rush Limbaugh labeled a "slut" for seeking birth-control coverage and thanked her for speaking out for U.S. women.
Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student Limbaugh called a "slut" and a "prostitute" for her birth-control testimony before Congress, deplored the radio host's remarks as "outside the bounds of civil discourse."
Limbaugh Friday stepped up his criticism of Fluke.
"It was Sandra Fluke who said that she was having so much sex she can't afford it," he told listeners to his radio show, syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks. "She's spending $3,000, $1,000 a year, on pills and she's going broke and wants us to buy it.
"By her own admission, in her own words, Sandra Fluke is having so much sex that she can't afford it," Limbaugh said Friday. "Does she have more boyfriends? They're lined up around the block. Or they would have been in my day."
Fluke told MSNBC Friday Obama's call meant a lot to her.
"He encouraged me and supported me and thanked me for speaking out about the concerns of American women. And what was really personal for me was that he said to tell my parents that they should be proud. And that meant a lot because Rush Limbaugh questioned whether or not my family would be proud of me. So, I just appreciated that very much," Fluke said.
"The speaker obviously believes the use of those words was inappropriate," Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement Friday.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told The Washington Post the Republican Party is "tattooed" with Limbaugh's comments.
Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said Friday Limbaugh's remarks were "absurd" but noted Limbaugh is an entertainer. GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney said Limbaugh's comments were "not the language I would have used."
Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., said Limbaugh's comments were "reprehensible" and called on him to apologize.
U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., whose committee put Fluke in the spotlight by dropping her from its witness list on contraception, Friday blamed Democrats for the Limbaugh controversy, The Hill reported.
Issa, responding to a request by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., to rebuke Limbaugh, accused Cummings of a "clear failure to recognize your own contributions to the denigration of this discussion and attacks on people of religious faith."
The issue of government-mandated insurance coverage for contraception is regarded as a religious liberty issue among many on the right, including most of the remaining rivals for the GOP presidential nomination.
"I'm not the first woman to be treated this way by numerous conservative media outlets, and hopefully I'll be the last," Fluke said Thursday. "This is really inappropriate," she said. "This is outside the bounds of civil discourse."
Fluke testified before Democrats after she was cut from the witness list at a committee hearing on the issue led by Republicans who said she was "not qualified" to discuss Obama's contraception coverage mandate.
Fluke told the Democrats a year's worth of contraception costs as much as $3,000 and said many women use birth control to treat medical issues, including polycystic ovary syndrome, a common female endocrine disorder thought to be one of the leading causes of female sub-fertility.
"That's $1,000 a year of sex -- and, she wants us to pay for it," Limbaugh said on his radio show.
"What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her?
"It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute," Limbaugh told listeners. "She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. …
"So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch," Limbaugh said.
Fluke told MSNBC she was first "stunned" by Limbaugh's comments but then became "outraged."
"Because this is historically the kind of language that is used to silence women especially when women stand up and say that these are their reproductive healthcare needs and this is what they need," she said.
Her comments came after 75 Democratic lawmakers urged Boehner to "repudiate" Limbaugh's remarks.
Using the airwaves to launch a "direct attack on a private citizen is unacceptable," Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., said in a letter to Boehner.
"Mr. Limbaugh repeatedly used sexually charged, patently offensive and obscene language to malign the character of this courageous young woman who has chosen to be the voice for many of her peers," the letter said.
"As leaders of the House that initially denied Ms. Fluke the right to speak, the Republicans have a special obligation to condemn the atrocious and hurtful words spoken by Mr. Limbaugh," the letter said.
At least two sponsors, Sleep Train Mattress and Sleep Number Beds, said Friday via Twitter they had suspended advertising on Limbaugh's show.
Sleep Train, based in the Sacramento area, had advertised on Limbaugh for more than 25 years, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Several other Limbaugh sponsors were looking into their advertising policies, businessinsider.com reported Friday.
The National Organization for women issued a statement condemning Limbaugh's remarks, saying: "Bigoted bully Rush Limbaugh has been rewarded for his hostile, hate-filled speech for far too long. The National Organization for Women calls on Clear Channel Communications to pull the plug on Limbaugh's gilded microphone immediately."