Limbaugh apologizes to Sandra Fluke

Rush Limbaugh (AP)

Rush Limbaugh (AP)

Updated 7:45 p.m. ET

Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh apologized to women's contraception activist Sandra Fluke for his "insulting word choices" after calling her a "slut" and a "prostitute" after her testimony before Congress.

"My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices," Limbaugh said in a statement released on his website Saturday.

Limbaugh's statements caused a firestorm, leading Congressional Democrats to challenge Republican leadership to "repudiate" Limbaugh's remarks; it prompted a phone call by President Obama to Fluke, the Georgetown University law student, to offer her support; and presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were forced to make statement about Limbaugh's comments.

The storm not only swirled around Limbaugh, he began to feel some of the impact, too.  After his statements and subsequent public reaction, three advertisers, including two mattress companies, pulled their ads from his radio program.

Although he apologized, in the same statement the fiery radio host called Fluke's testimony before a mock Congressional hearing "absurd."

"I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress," he wrote, but he added: "I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke."

On his radio show on February 29, Limbaugh elevated the debate to the next level when he said: "What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her?"

"It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute."

"She wants to be paid to have sex," Limbaugh continued on his radio program. "She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception." 

The point Limbaugh said he was trying to make was that taxpayers' dollars should not be used for contraception coverage.

Limbaugh was referring to Fluke's testimony before the Democrat-organized mock hearing after being cut from the witness list by Republican leadership at an official hearing on the president's recent decision to require insurance companies provide contraception coverage for employees of religious-affiliated institutions.

Her testimony did not talk about sex at the hearing but discussed the importance of birth control coverage for Georgetown University Law School students for family planning and health reasons. 

Fluke told CBS News that Limbaugh's incendiary comments are meant to "silence" women.

"It's an attempt to silence women. That's really what it's about, if we're called these names, then we'll go away and we won't demand the health care we deserve and we need and I think women have proven those folks wrong," said Fluke.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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