Date of Graduation

Spring 2013


Master of Arts in Communication



Committee Chair

Elizabeth Dudash


pentad, feminist standpoint theory, dramatism, the Affordable Care Act, Sandra Fluke, Rush Limbaugh, the Catholic Church

Subject Categories



The Affordable Care Act is federal legislation that reformed health policy in the U.S. In this legislation, there is a mandate for the provision of contraceptives that has spurred prolonged controversy, particularly from the Catholic Church. Because of this controversy, Congress and the Obama Administration sought to create an accommodation that would appease the Catholic Church. In searching for a compromise, Sandra Fluke was invited to testify in support of the mandate without a religious exception. Rush Limbaugh then responded to her testimony by discussing it on his radio talk show. In this study, the rhetoric of Sandra Fluke's testimony before a Democratic congressional committee and the responses Rush Limbaugh made on his radio show are analyzed using Burke's theory of dramatism. Standpoint theory was used to elucidate the research questions that the pentad was used to answer. The specific ratio utilized was an agent/agency ratio and that ratio helps explain the success of Fluke's testimony because of Limbaugh's responses. Limbaugh's response to Fluke was not received well by the public and increased the visibility of Fluke's testimony, ultimately shifting the trajectory of the debate over the contraceptive mandate.


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