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Duly Noted

Thursday, Mar 1, 2012, 6:27 am

Women Want to Be Paid for Work, Not Sex

By Lindsay Beyerstein

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Punch the clock.   Sarah C., Creative Commons.

Rush Limbaugh thinks he's very clever, accusing law student Sandra Fluke of being a prostitute for defending the Obama administration's mandate that health insurance cover birth control:

LIMBAUGH: What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] 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. 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.

Fluke doesn’t want to be paid for sex, she wants to be paid for work. Health insurance is a huge part of how Americans get paid. Health insurance is a good deal for the employee if the employer can offer benefits that are worth more than what the employee could buy with a raise equal to what the employer spends on her insurance premium.

So, if your health insurance doesn’t cover basic preventive care, you’re getting ripped off. You’re trading cash for benefits but it’s a bad deal for you if the insurance systematically denies the kind of care that you need.

Different people need different kinds of care. If you’re an older man, you’re going to need colonoscopies and prostate cancer screenings. If you’re a young woman, you’re going need pap smears and probably birth control. If insurance covers colonoscopies but not birth control, older men are getting a benefit that’s more valuable to them than the younger women who do the same work and are entitled to the same insurance benefit. That’s unacceptable.

Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times' City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (, a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.

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