(CNN) – President Barack Obama further explained Tuesday why he called and offered support to Sandra Fluke, the law student targeted by Rush Limbaugh last week after advocating for contraception coverage in a Democratic hearing on Capitol Hill.
In his first press conference of the year, Obama said he was thinking about his own two daughters when he picked up the phone to call Fluke on Friday.
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"One of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on," he said. "I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way, and I don't want them attacked or called horrible names because they're being good citizens."
He added: "I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her, and that we want to send a message to all our young people that being part of a democracy involves arguments and disagreements and debate."
Limbaugh issued an apology this weekend, saying he did not use the best choice of words when he labeled Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" during his radio show last week.
Fluke, who attends Georgetown Law, appeared before a Democratic panel the week prior, calling for more coverage of contraceptives as a health care issue.
Her testimony came in the wake of a recent compromise reached by the Obama administration, which amended a controversial policy to now allow religiously-affiliated institutions to be exempt from paying for contraceptives in their health insurance plans.
Since Limbaugh made the comments last week, a flood of advertisers have pledged to take their business elsewhere, and two radio stations have pulled the plug on his show all together.
On Tuesday, Obama declined to comment on the firestorm that has erupted over Limbaugh's remarks, as well as the conservative firebrand's apology.
"What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don't have any place in the public discourse," Obama said.