DeGioia responds to attacks against Sandra Fluke

Friday March 2, Georgetown University President John DeGioia sent an email to the Georgetown community commending law student Sandra Fluke for her civil discourse about birth control and criticizing the media for the personal attacks against her. A few weeks ago, Fluke testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about the university’s student health insurance’s refusal to cover a fellow student’s birth control to manage her polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Since then, Fluke has been the object of personal attacks from pundits like Rush Limbaugh, who called her a slut for using birth control.

DeGioia’s message is below.

March 2, 2012

Dear Members of the Georgetown Community:

There is a legitimate question of public policy before our nation today.  In the effort to address the problem of the nearly fifty million Americans who lack health insurance, our lawmakers enacted legislation that seeks to increase access to health care. In recent weeks, a question regarding the breadth of services that will be covered has focused significant public attention on the issue of contraceptive coverage.  Many, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, have offered important perspectives on this issue.

In recent days, a law student of Georgetown, Sandra Fluke, offered her testimony regarding the proposed regulations by the Department of Health and Human Services before a group of members of Congress.  She was respectful, sincere, and spoke with conviction.  She provided a model of civil discourse.  This expression of conscience was in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people.  One need not agree with her substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression.  And yet, some of those who disagreed with her position – including Rush Limbaugh and commentators throughout the blogosphere and in various other media channels – responded with behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.

In our vibrant and diverse society, there always are important differences that need to be debated, with strong and legitimate beliefs held on all sides of challenging issues.  The greatest contribution of the American project is the recognition that together, we can rely on civil discourse to engage the tensions that characterize these difficult issues, and work towards resolutions that balance deeply held and different perspectives.  We have learned through painful experience that we must respect one another and we acknowledge that the best way to confront our differences is through constructive public debate.  At times, the exercise of one person’s freedom may conflict with another’s.  As Americans, we accept that the only answer to our differences is further engagement.

In an earlier time, St. Augustine captured the sense of what is required in civil discourse: “Let us, on both sides, lay aside all arrogance.  Let us not, on either side, claim that we have already discovered the truth.  Let us seek it together as something which is known to neither of us.  For then only may we seek it, lovingly and tranquilly, if there be no bold presumption that it is already discovered and possessed.”

If we, instead, allow coarseness, anger – even hatred – to stand for civil discourse in America, we violate the sacred trust that has been handed down through the generations beginning with our Founders.  The values that hold us together as a people require nothing less than eternal vigilance.  This is our moment to stand for the values of civility in our engagement with one another.


John J. DeGioia
Georgetown University

16 Comments on “DeGioia responds to attacks against Sandra Fluke

  1. Word up to Jack and the Dept. of Communications.

    Rush, stay out of Washington.

  2. Congratulations to Ms. Fluke for having the courage of her convictions and for being brave enough to express them with such eloquence. She will be a hell of a lawyer and makes Georgetown University proud.

    Also thanks to President DeGioia for defending her right to express her personal views without being subject to derisive comments by the far-right who just want to stir the pot for their personal gain. I have always prided myself on being able to disagree without being disagreeable, something Rush might want to learn.

  3. Sandra Fluke does speak for me. I am SFS ’74, as is my husband of 38 years, as well as our two children. We are not practicing Catholics despite 16 years of Catholic schools, but we are Georgetown – strong moral values, civic engagement and a commitment to truth, honesty and scientific fact in a free and open society.

  4. I would make President DeGioia the president-for-life if I could. What an excellent representative for our university.

  5. It’s from “Against the Fundamental Epistle of Manichaeus. “You can find it at: The gracious hermeneutical tone is all the more striking given that it’s one of Augustine’s arguments against the Manicheans, who he strongly disfavors.

  6. While I applaud our esteemed president’s stance on civil discourse, I would like him to take a firm stance on the issue at hand. Yes, Fluke deserves our utmost respect for testifying on this important issue. Yes, the right wing response has been, as DeGioia puts it, “misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.” And yes, civil discourse is (just slightly) more productive than name-calling. But it bears repeating that Fluke wouldn’t be testifying on behalf of her friend if Georgetown had a more equitable health care policy.

    This letter reads like a publicity stunt for the administration’s watered-down, opportunistic, and inconsistent version of Jesuit values. If DeGioia wants to add something valuable to this discussion, he’ll make a statement about the flaws in Georgetown’s health care system and the lack of reproductive justice on this campus. It’s easy to denounce rhetoric like Limbaugh’s. It’s more difficult to take a legitimate stance on the issue at hand.

  7. Well you’re not biased…President DeGioia actually is showing a consistent version of Jesuit values. Catholicism does not condone sex before marriage, regardless of how old-fashioned people think this belief is. To implement a health care system that encourages students (or university personnel) to engage in sex by offering birth control would be Georgetown waving the white flag to “the times are changing” as opposed to staying true to the Church’s teachings. I know a lot of people disagree with the stance of the Church, but the whole debate for religious institutions revolves around this and nothing else. If people really want Georgetown to change its policies, I’d try talking to the Vatican.

  8. ^ This isn’t entirely the case, though. The Law Center’s faculty and staff *do* have the contraceptive coverage, which is quite surprising given the University’s stance. And although everyone claims that anyone can get necessary contraceptive medications for health reasons, the fact is that a) that policy exception is not well publicized and b) the hoops women have to jump through to convince people that there is a health reason are too great (hence some of Sandra’s testimony regarding the process). If the university won’t just cover it anyway, then at least it needs to be clear about how the policy works. As it stands, it’s not. And it makes no sense why only students aren’t covered.

  9. Now is the time for Christians to get right with God before our sins overtake us without remedy.
    Jesus Christ will not be mocked nor manipulated by mankind.

    GOD is love (1 John 4:16). He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful
    to discipline him (Prov 13:24;19:18;22:15; 29:15,17).

    The LORD is a Righteous and Holy GOD. He is ready to reject us – His anger burns with our
    sin of rebellion (Deut 32:17-19; Heb 10:38).

    If we refuse to obey and change our attitudes to line up with God’s Will and Word we can expect
    greater trials and tribulations individually and as a nation (Hebrews Chapter 12).
    We must live by faith to please GOD (Hebrews 11:6).

    Because our faith and deeds are lukewarm, Almighty God is about to spit us out of His mouth (Rev. 3:14-20).

    In Luke 11:29-32 Jesus tells us we have made ourselves liable to judgment greater than either a
    notoriously wicked nation or a powerful pagan dictator. With refusal to repent we bring upon us
    curses for disobedience according to Deut 28: 15-68.

    The LORD does not change like the shifting shadows of man (Malachi 3:6).

    How could intelligent people turn to idolatry? It begins when people reject what they know about GOD.
    Instead of looking to Him as the Creator and sustainer of life, they see themselves as the center of their
    own selfish plans and decrees. If the devil can deceive the Leaders he can scatter the nation.

    GOD did not tell us to rewrite the Holy Bible with “Replacement Theology” (Rev 22:18-19).
    Rebellion against Almighty GOD is witchcraft (1 Sam 15:23; Gal 3:1; Eph 5:6).

    Abortion is not a choice. Moses said, “You shall not murder” (Ten Commandments Exodus 20:13).
    When we make excuses for our actions, we break down the distinction between right from wrong
    and destruction soon follows.

    Many Christians have put their trust in what they have created and not in the Creator of heaven
    and earth who has truly blessed America.

    Idol worship flourishes when we pay homage to cars, homes, sports stars, celebrities, money, etc..
    Idol worship is evil because (1) it insults God when we worship something we created rather than
    worshiping Him; (2) it keeps us from knowing and serving God when we put our confidence in
    anything other then Him; (3) it causes us to rely on our own efforts rather than on God.
    (Deut. 27:15;Isaiah 2:6-18).

    Transformed – not reformed – Renewing of the Mind – Spiritually Born Again Christians love Jesus Christ
    (John 15:18-20) as their Lord and Saviour and they understand that if they love Jesus they will obey His
    Word and Will without being commanded to do so. He will not be mocked nor manipulated by mankind.

    Jesus said, ” I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
    “Here I am! I stand at the door of your heart and knock. When you pray, invite me to come into your
    heart and I will come in…just as you are (John 14:6; Rev. 3:20).

    PRAYER For Everyone…

    JESUS, be merciful to me a sinner. Come into my heart and life and be my Lord and Saviour.
    Create in me a pure heart that desires to follow You all the days of my life. Draw me close to
    You in prayers of faith and confession of my sins. Teach me eternal wisdom that I may grow in
    faith for Your Word is Truth. LORD, You alone are the Holy One, Most High, Jesus Christ,
    with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. By faith I pray, AMEN.

    I am the LORD, and apart from Me there is no eternal Saviour (Isaiah 43:11)

    God has given every Christian the opportunity to know His Word and if we love Him we will obey
    without being commanded to do so (Ten Commandments Exodus 20:3). If My people who are called
    by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways,
    then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

    God is love. Love from above is HIS Word and Will…so we will love and respect one another.

  10. AHAHAH fuck ya man. You seem so legit. Do you go to the Tombs?

  11. If you want your employer to pay for contraceptive services don’t work for a Catholic or other religious organization that opposes such practice as a fundamental religious. Catholics are not trying to impose their beliefs on others however the government must not impose laws that are in direct opposition to Catholics beliefs. One would think that any first year law student should be familiar with the constitutional separation of Church and State.

  12. Only a rabid right wing misogynist could fail to see the justice in Sandra Fluke’s proposal that all female law students receive a three year birth control stipend of $3,000.

    Just look at the prices sexually active females have to pay for protection against pregnancy. Discount pharmacies charge as much as $10 for a month’s supply of generic Ortho Tri-Cyclen or Ortho Cyclen contraceptive pills. Over a three year period, that would use up $360 of a student’s $3,000 stipend, leaving her only $2,640 to use to buy condoms in order to be extra safe.

    And condoms are exorbitantly expensive. Even if a student economized by buying them online from Amazon, a Pleasure Pack of 40 assorted Trojans would cost her $12.17. Do the math. That means that the $2,640 balance of her birth control stipend would only buy her about 200 Pleasure Packs – a measly total of 8,000 Trojans – to get her through her 1,000 days in law school.

    If we want to avoid a tidal wave of unwanted pregnancies among female law students, they must be provided with the funds they need to enjoy safe sex. Given the ruinously high cost of condoms and birth control pills, $3,000 per student is a bare minimum.

    John D. Hartigan
    Chevy Chase, MD

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