But unlike those others who were part of a running campus controversy, Fluke became part of a heated and highly personal national debate when she agreed to testify before a congressional committee last month.
Fluke said she anticipated criticism but not personal attacks from prominent pundits including Rush Limbaugh, who repeatedly has called her a “slut,” and from hundreds of people who have typed even more offensive slurs on Twitter.
“I understood that I’m stepping into the public eye,” said Fluke, 30, a third-year student studying public interest law. “But this reaction is so out of the bounds of acceptable discourse . . . These types of words shouldn’t be applied to anyone.”
Limbaugh, a conservative radio talk show host, was criticized by prominent Democrats and Republicans. A handful of companies suspended their commercials on his show in protest and by Saturday, Limbaugh apologized in a statement on his Web site.
In the statement, he said “my choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir.”
Fluke appeared on the national television circuit on Friday explaining her position. Meanwhile, her cell phone buzzed with calls from friends, classmates and supporters, including President Obama.
Fluke (pronounced as if it rhymes with “look”) said she was not a stranger to criticism women can face advocating for causes related to their sexual health and relationships.
She graduated from Cornell University in 2003 with two degrees, including one in feminist, gender and sexuality studies.
Fluke then worked for several years at a domestic violence center in New York City and successfully lobbied for legislation that would grant protective orders to unmarried victims of domestic abuse, including teens and LGBT individuals, according to her biography on the Georgetown Law Web site.
As a co-president of the Georgetown chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, Fluke and other law students have met through the years with several top Georgetown officials to discuss the student health-care plan.
“They made very clear to us that they weren’t going to do this until the law made them do it,” said Lizzy Watson, 23, a second-year law student who is also a member of the group.
On Georgetown’s main campus, some student groups pass out free condoms but purchasing contraceptives of any sort requires venturing off campus, often to a pharmacy about half a mile away.
Undergraduates have also taken on this issue, and in March 2010 three students put tape over their mouths and chained themselves to a statue of the Catholic college’s founder as part of a campaign they called, “Plan A.”