Limbaugh sorry for 'slut' comment

 

Controversial US conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has apologised to a law student he branded a “slut” and “prostitute” over her stance on contraception.

The apology came amid a storm of criticism from Republican and Democrat politicians and advertisers who severed ties with Limbaugh’s popular radio programme.

Sandra Fluke, a 30-year old student and women's rights activist at Georgetown University in Washington, has been caught in the middle of a contentious election-year fight between US president Barack Obama and Republicans of a new national healthcare policy that would compel her college to offer plans that covered her birth control.

Ms Fluke spoke out against the Republican effort to scrap the birth control policy and advocated making contraception available to all women, drawing fire from right-wing commentator Limbaugh.

“My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir,” Limbaugh said in a statement on his website last night. “I sincerely apologise to Ms Fluke for the insulting word choices.”

Religious-affiliated organisations, the Catholic Church and social conservatives have argued Mr Obama's new policy is an infringement on religious liberty.

The issue has been much debated in the presidential race, with Republican candidates particularly criticising the Obama plan’s requirements on such employers as Catholic hospitals.

Mr Obama, whose landmark healthcare overhaul requires many institutions to provide birth control coverage, phoned Ms Fluke from the White House on Friday to express his support.

</p> <p>Limbaugh was not swayed by Fluke’s statements before the House panel.</p> <p>He said on Wednesday: “What does it say about the college coed ... who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.”</p> <p>He dug in a day later, refusing to give ground. “If we’re going to have to pay for this, then we want something in return, Ms Fluke,” he said. “And that would be the videos of all this sex posted online so we can see what we’re getting for our money.”</p> <p>He also asked Ms Fluke: “Who bought your condoms in junior high?”</p> <p>On Friday, even after Democrats defeated Republican challenges to the new healthcare law in the Senate, Limbaugh scoffed at the Democrats’ talk of a conservative “war on women”.</p> <p>“Amazingly, when there is the slightest bit of opposition to this new welfare entitlement being created, then all of a sudden we hate women. We want ‘em barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen,” he said. “And now, at the end of this week, I am the person that the women of America are to fear the most.”</p> <p>But by yesterday, six advertisers had ended their sponsorship of Limbaugh’s show and some Republicans had distanced themselves from the comments.</p> <p>Limbaugh decided to yield, saying: “For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms Fluke.”</p> <p>But he also said the entire debate was absolutely absurd. “In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom, nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a presidential level,” he said.</p> <p>But Limbaugh’s critics were not swayed by his statement. “In all seriousness, this isn’t an apology. It’s a public relations statement. It’s hollow and deceitful. Don’t be fooled,” tweeted the account StopRush, the effort online to pressure advertisers to abandon the radio host.</p>