SAXTON - The Georgetown Law School student who spoke out for women's health care rights and now is at the center of a controversy involving comments by a conservative talk radio host is a 1999 graduate of Tussey Mountain School District.
Sandra Fluke, 30, testified before House Democrats in support of their health care policy recently, saying women have "suffered financially, emotionally and medically" from a lack of birth control coverage.
Rush Limbaugh called Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" on his nationwide radio show last week. He later issued an apology.
"My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir," Limbaugh said on his website. "I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices."
Attempts to reach Fluke or her family in Saxton were unsuccessful.
Tussey Mountain Superintendent Mark Bollman said the district has not received a lot of calls for comment about Fluke.
He said he watched Fluke address congressional Democrats on YouTube.com and thought she was well-spoken and presented her views well. The manner in which she was attacked was unfortunate, he said.
This was not the first time Limbaugh has used "vulgar" comments, Bollman said, adding the host "relies on sensationalism to get" listeners.
Fluke appeared on ABC's "The View" on Monday, saying Limbaugh's apology did not change anything, according to abcnews.com.
"I don't think that a statement like this issued, saying that his choice of words was not the best, changes anything, and especially when that statement is issued when he's under significant pressure from his sponsors who have begun to pull their support," she said according to the website.
Nine companies, including AOL Inc. and Tax Resolution Services Co., have suspended advertising on Limbaugh's program.
Fluke, meanwhile, has received support from faculty members, administrators and students of Georgetown University Law Center who released a statement on its website condemning the personal attacks, saying, in part: "As scholars and teachers who aim to train public-spirited lawyers, no matter what their politics, to engage intelligently and meaningfully with the world, we abhor these attacks on Ms. Fluke and applaud her strength and grace in the face of them."
President Barack Obama also called Fluke to offer his support, and Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia released a statement on the university website.
Lee Ann De Reus, an associate professor of human development and family studies and women's studies at Penn State Altoona, was glad to see advertisers pulling their support from Limbaugh's program, because "his values do not represent theirs," she said.
"I was absolutely appalled at his comments. I consider it an insult and affront to all women," she said. "It also is clear Limbaugh has a lot of misunderstandings about women's biology."
Obviously, he does not know how birth control works, she said. Many women take it for other medical reasons besides preventing pregnancy.
"I consider his comments misogynistic and a form of bullying," she said, noting his words were not constructive for forward movement on the issue.
De Reus thought at this point in time, the debate about birth control was in the past.
"We don't want to have to fight it again, but we will," said Julia Anne Hudson-Richards, an associate professor of history and women's study at Penn State Altoona.
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030. The Associated Press contributed to this story.