Liberal women's rights activist Sandra Fluke urged a roomful of 600 policymakers and advocates in Sacramento today to work on issues beyond abortion access, touting efforts to provide fertility treatment to injured veterans, health care to transgender people and additional payments to women who get pregnant while receiving welfare.
"If you believe in a woman's right to decide it's not the time to have a child, then you also believe in her right to decide that it is time to have a child," Fluke, a lawyer, said during a speech at the California Women's Policy Summit.
The comment was a reference to Senate Bill 899 by Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, which seeks to overturn a law that forbids women who get pregnant while on welfare from receiving additional payments if she has the baby.
"We should never lose sight of our core fight — the ability to have access to the abortion care that we need," said Fluke, who gained nationwide attention in 2012 when radio commentator Rush Limbaugh called her a slut after she testified before congressional Democrats in favor of health plans covering birth control.
"This doesn't mean turning away from the fights we've historically fought, but it means making sure we are moving to these new frontiers," she said.
At that point Fluke broke out in a sweat, said she was feeling dizzy and sat down. Seated next to her were Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara. They tended to Fluke with glasses of water and napkins dipped in ice. After several minutes, Fluke took off her jacket and returned to the podium.
"What did you learn about women's health at this conference?" Fluke said. "That it's important to eat breakfast and lunch."
Then she complained that her high heels were hurting, took off her shoes and offered some advice to the audience before finishing her speech in bare feet:
"Reject ridiculous beauty standards," she said. "Wear shoes that don't make you feel like you're going to fall over when you're giving a speech."
PHOTO: Lawyer and women's health activist Sandra Fluke at a campaign event for Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, in October 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Lezlie Sterling