In January 2012, as she imagined the year ahead, Sandra Fluke, then a third year law student at Georgetown, assumed her role in the 2012 campaign would be similar to that of most Americans.
"At the beginning of the year, I imagined my influence was going to be my one vote and potentially volunteering for some candidates," she explains. "But it turned out to be somewhat larger than that."
That January, the Obama Administration announced that, as part of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance plans would have to cover women's contraception free of charge. House Republicans decided to challenge the law, and debated the matter on the House floor. House Democrats asked Fluke to testify, but House Republicans refused. Fluke eventually testified before House Democrats, focusing on two Georgetown Law friends harmed by the Jesuit school's decision not to provide contraception coverage.
After hearing her testimony, talk radio show host Rush Limbaugh made the following remarks on his show:
"[Fluke] 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. 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."
Sandra explains why she decided to respond to Limbaugh's comments. "When you have an opportunity to engage publicly, and talk about something that's important, I think you have a responsibility to do so."
Limbaugh's remarks sparked outrage. President Obama called Fluke to offer his support, and, after Limbaugh lost advertisers, he eventually said he regretted his comments. For her part, Fluke continued her rise to prominence in the Democratic Party. After graduating from law school, in May, Fluke spoke at the Democratic National Convention, in June.
Fluke, a new member of the California bar, hopes for a new role in 2013. "I'm looking forward to getting into policy work, into the details, and really being involved in that way," she says.