Sandra Fluke Is Today's Anita Hill

No one thought women would still be fighting for basic reproductive rights in the 21st century.

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Sandra Fluke, attorney and women's rights activist addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.

Could Sandra Fluke be the Anita Hill of the early 21st century?

That's almost a distressing question for many women, who figured that by the 21st century they wouldn't have to be fighting battles anymore over basic things like birth control and equal healthcare. But the woman who became a household name thanks to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh (whose monikers for Fluke, "slut" and "prostitute," hardly belong in most households) was onstage at the Democratic National Convention, making a modern, why-are-we-talking-about-this plea for women's equal rights. Fluke, the then-Georgetown University Law School student who famously argued that her health insurance should cover contraception, said:

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Catholic contraception controversy.]

During this campaign, we've heard about the two profoundly different futures that could await women—and how one of those futures looks like an offensive, obsolete relic of our past. Warnings of that future are not distractions. They're not imagined. That future could be real.

In that America, your new president could be a man who stands by when a public figure tries to silence a private citizen with hateful slurs. Who won't stand up to the slurs, or to any of the extreme, bigoted voices in his own party. It would be an America in which you have a new vice president who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms. An America in which states humiliate women by forcing us to endure invasive ultrasounds we don't want and our doctors say we don't need. An America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it; in which politicians redefine rape so survivors are victimized all over again; in which someone decides which domestic violence victims deserve help, and which don't. We know what this America would look like. In a few short months, it's the America we could be. But it's not the America we should be. It's not who we are.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

Sound familiar? It's eerily similar to the structure the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy used when he took down Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. In talking about "Robert Bork's America," Kennedy described a country where civil rights and women's rights would be denied or curtailed. That was in 1987. Fluke is still fighting the fight.

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