Media shirk debate on religious liberty

Yesterday morning, an editor of the CNN religion section tweeted:

Why was #CNNDebate question on contraception booed? Is it just us or are social conservative questions often booed? Why?

Now, if you watched the question, and you are in any way even remotely aware of the recent battle over religious liberty, you know exactly why the question got booed. At a debate hosted by CNN, ostensibly to elucidate the differences between the Republican candidates for president, a question that sounded as if it was written by junior-level Planned Parenthood strategist was asked. That question was, and I’m entirely serious:

Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidates believe in birth control and, if not, why?

“Believe in”?

You bet your bottom dollar that the audience booed. I myself composed a tweet that was remarkable not only for being in all caps but also for including crude language. See, you wouldn’t know it from media coverage but the Obama Administration has issued a strict mandate that deeply concerns many religious liberty observers. Because that mandate requires everyone to pay for abortifacients, sterilization and contraception for their employees — even if they have religious objections to it — the media have decided to adopt the framework that this is a battle over “women” and a battle over “belief” in “birth control.”

That’s not even close to an accurate description of what concerns the religious liberty activists, but it doesn’t matter. And it’s a sexist dismissal of all the women, such as myself, who care deeply and passionately about religious liberty. But it doesn’t matter. It’s the way many in the media have decided to frame the issue and they don’t care how many Jews, Lutherans, Baptists, Catholics and Zoroastrians (female or male!) say otherwise, it’s going to be about birth control. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

Take a look at this picture of Dr. Allison Dabbs Garrett, the senior vice-president for academic affairs at Oklahoma Christian University. According to the mainstream media, she doesn’t exist. Neither does Dr. Laura Champion, medical director of Calvin College Health Services. See, they testified at a hearing on religious liberty. But since the talking points used by the media are, quite literally, “Where were the women at the religious liberty hearing?”, they can’t acknowledge that they exist. And they can’t acknowledged that Dabbs Garrett said things such as:

“While our views differ from those of our Catholic friends regarding what our plans should cover, our views are exactly the same on whether the government should be able to require individuals or institutions to violate their religious beliefs.”

It didn’t happen, OK? Just stop trying to pretend that she is a real woman who really cares about religious liberty. Does that quote sound like something a real woman would say?

Now, last week I was traveling on business when the head of my church body, the Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, testified about Lutheran objections to the mandate. In order to watch it, which I really wanted to do because I care so much about the issue of religious liberty, I had to find the web site for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and then figure out how to stream the coverage live. I watched for three hours or so. Now, at my last newspaper, I had to cover that committee all the time. So I kind of knew what I had to do to find it. But would the average person be able to easily navigate this? I’m not sure.

Compare that with this tweet from CNN today.

@CNNLive: House #Democrats hold a #contraception hearing of their own. Live: http://on.cnn.com/cnndcl1

Yes, you could watch CNN live streaming of a Democratic counter-hearing. Now, remember that the committee hearing wasn’t on contraception, except insofar as the Obama Administration is forcing religious institutions to cover abortifacients, sterilization and contraception for employees even if they have doctrinal problems with doing so.

It was a religious liberty hearing. That you had to go to the Committee website to find. (I went back and reviewed CNNLive’s tweets — they didn’t stream the hearing on religious liberty.) So when the religious liberty activists had their day, their arguments were barely covered under a barrage of talking points about how everyone testifying had man parts and everyone knows that man parts mean you may not have an opinion on the First Amendment. (I know, I know, you keep pointing to that woman there. I’ve told you: She does not exist, OK?) And then when the Democrats have a counter-hearing to highlight that women such as Allison Dabbs Garrett don’t exist and certainly aren’t worthy of having their views listened to, then we get CNN live streaming it. That’s not journalism, that’s taking sides.

In response to the tweet above, a friend wrote, “The fact that CNN could not have anticipated that reaction and even worse, not understood it, is nearly unfathomable. The candidates were obviously not surprised or unprepared for the question — how could anyone still professing objectivity have so little perspective at how far spun they are?” I can only assume that the religion editors there were just trying to provoke a conversation rather than actually confused as to why the question was roundly booed (although this follow-up suggests otherwise). But it’s not just them. The Washington Post tweeted out last night that “Republicans try to shirk debate on contraception, prefer to criticize Obama.” Um, well, kind of. But they’re kind of missing the point. What was that thing that they were criticizing Obama about? (Hint: It rhymes with Creligious Fliberty.)

To be absolutely clear: It’s fine that Rep. Nancy Pelosi alleges that people such as myself are attempting to impose “an ideological point of view” designed to hurt women rather than people who have an earnest concern about religious freedom. She’s a politician and I get that she will be political when characterizing those who don’t agree with her. This is not the first time that’s happened and that’s her job. But I do care that the media are just marching lockstep with her in her campaign. That’s not what journalists are supposed to do. And this lockstep marching in the culture wars is unrelenting. First, the media embedded with Planned Parenthood in their fight against Komen. Then many in the media ignored the complaints of religious liberty activists. Then when the religious liberty activists were making serious ground, the media changed the terms of the debate, lying about statistics if necessary, to something more advantageous. And it just keeps going.

Are the media in an increasingly thick bubble that inures them to one-sided approaches to hot-button issues? Let’s wrap it up by looking at this op-ed piece analysis report from the Associated Press’ Robert Lewis headlined “Ridicule helped doom Va. ultrasound bill.”

I challenge you to find a more one-sided piece about a bill that would have required ultrasounds to be performed before abortions. Not a single person who supported the bill is quoted, for instance. Nor is it mentioned that Planned Parenthood of Virginia already does multiple ultrasounds before abortions, as Alana Goodman reported for Commentary.

The backstory is that some journalist activists such as Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick compared the ultrasounds required in the bill to forcible rape for no medical reason and said people should be outraged. And so journalists got outraged and so did the people the journalists care about most: Jon Stewart, “Saturday Night Live” and… Megan McCain. Reporting on the bill wasn’t exactly noteworthy, although the campaigning against it was.

So here’s how the Associated Press’ Robert Lewis begins his “news” piece:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Once the word “transvaginal” became a big joke on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” it wasn’t long before Virginia’s conservative Republicans realized they had overreached on abortion.

Oh was that how it worked? What an evenhanded report from the AP about “overreach” on abortion, eh? The conservative Republicans polled their noted fans Megan McCain, Saturday Night Live and Jon Stewart and decided that if they were being mocked, then that must mean they had “overreached on abortion”? I guess Robert Lewis has a point. Megan McCain — oh, I’m sorry — “conservative columnist Megan McCain” is highly respected among all people and when she makes a recommendation, you can hear all of Washington, D.C. come crashing to a halt to figure out how to incorporate her wisdom into their political strategy. And the GOP actually runs their morning meetings based on what Stewart said to his audience the previous night.

Oh wait, no, that’s not quite right. If there are people who really care about what Jon Stewart and Megan McCain say, it’s probably not conservative Republicans. Still, this “news” report does indicate something about the way stuff gets reported in the Associated Press.

It may be time for some introspection, however, among the media elite and the thickness of the bubble they’re in.

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  • Martha

    It’s not even all about religious liberty, it’s about a secular government department deciding what does and does not constitute a religious organisation; so (for example) my parish church? That’s a religious organisation. The school that educated me between the ages of four and a half to seventeen? That’s not, despite the fact that it was founded and run by an order of teaching nuns under the auspices of the bishop.

    As for how that question was phrased – could it be any more of a “have you stopped beating your wife?” question? Never mind that it didn’t even acknowledge the religious liberty point, it didn’t even stop to differentiate between ‘agree everyone is entitled to use contraception but disagree that the public purse should pay for it’ and ‘moral/ethical/religious objections to artificial contraception’ to ‘agree everyone should have the right, the access and even public assistance, but think this present measure and the amendment are making a dog’s dinner of it’.

    Might as well have come out and said “Which of you donate to Planned Parenthood and which are abortion clinic bombers?”

  • Bill

    Let’s see… a few years ago, Kensington, MD disallowed Santa Claus from riding on a fire truck because that was a violation of the separation church and state. It was reported as such.

    Now, a government department issues a fiat that Catholic hospitals are not really religious institutions and must offer insurance that goes against Catholic doctrine. This must not be a violation of church and state because it is being reported as a violation of a woman’s constitutional right to have her employer pay for her birth control and abortifacient coverage.

    Methinks the coverage is confusing the Bill of Rights with a bill of goods.

  • sari

    Y’know, I will be the first to say the media displays a definite bias, not just on this topic but on many others, but doesn’t anyone wonder why the antipathy towards religion and religious freedom? The attitude predates Obama’s presidency and the current debate on religious liberty and involves more than members of the media; large segments of the public subscribe to the same views.

  • John Penta

    Sari:

    Because the great majority of the public are sheep, and the media are the ostensible shepherds.

    Baa, little sheep, baa.

  • Jettboy

    There is this kind of reporting and yet Getreligion staff wonders why so many people hate the media and want to see it die. You can’t let it die, they scream. Give it more of a chance, they implore. Bull! No one takes in a feral dog in hopes rabies will just go away. You shoot the thing!

  • http://www.acupuncturebrooklyn.com Karen

    Let me speak up in favor of the question. Rick Santorum does not believe that even married couples ought to use birth control. Those of us who favor it, whether in or out of insurance plans, believe that (1) most American voters are not aware that he said it is wrong and permits sexual expression he does not approve of and (2) it is an important question at a time when healthcare is being debated.

    A followup question on the religious liberty issues would be in order.

  • http://www.acupuncturebrooklyn.com Karen

    And the missing part of the effect of Jon Stewart and SNL is that there were huge mailings from constituents, petitions on social media and other pressures from voters. It clearly wasn’t the embarrassment from two television shows, although they might have affected the mailings and petitions.

  • Jeff

    Mollie tweets: “RELIGIOUS LIBERTY RELIGIOUS LIBERTY RELIGIOUS LIBERTY RELIGIOUS LIBERTY. EFF YOU CNN.”

    My sentiments exactly.

    Preach it, sister. Preach, sister. Preach it.

  • sari

    John Penta–That’s a rather simplistic answer, don’t you think? Human beings are social animals; no one acts in a vacuum. Actions lead to reactions.

    What changed that the media and large segments of the population became actively hostile to organized religion and religious belief? Somewhere there’s got to be a tipping point, a place where slow momentum built to some critical level. It’s easy to dichotomize the world into liberal and conservatives, religious and non-religious, us and them, but black and white rarely paint the whole picture.

    The question of government-mandated contraception ties into many issues, one of which is religious freedom. Another is access to contraception. The two are not mutually exclusive, especially when one is poor and lacks multiple options. The question was relevant to a great number of Americans, but it should have been accompanied by additional questions pertaining to other aspects of the proposal.

  • Dave S

    Introspection would only be necessary if the media felt that their current tactics were out of line with their mission. Since they view their mission as advocating for liberal and secularist positions and not impartially reporting all sides of an issue, they see no conflict and, therefore, no need for introspection.

    I think that perhaps Get Religion is stuck in a rut of wishing for bygone days, days that perhaps never were, when journalists carefully hid their own personal feelings about issues in order to give a full and unbiased airing to all sides of an issue. I’m not sure that ever really was the case.

    In any event, what we have today is full blown advocacy journalism, where every little local crime report is written from a specific point of view, almost always a liberal position. I don’t think that really matters, so long as one is aware that the press always has an axe to grind. It certainly doesn’t affect my perception of the issues.

    The problem may be that the press misrepresents itself as neutral and unbiased, and many people swallow that whopper.

    So in exposing the bias of the press in this series on the HHS mandates, Get Religion does a service by revealing the true colors of the media. When we all get the point, then it really won’t matter how lopsided the MSM coverage is.

  • Jimmy

    Sari wrote: “Another is access to contraception. The two are not mutually exclusive, especially when one is poor and lacks multiple options.”

    Actually, through county health clinics, the poor have more access to contraception than the rest of the population. In many cases it is provided free. There should really be no reason for the Government to mandate ANY company provide an insurance clause covering contraception, abortifacients, sterilization (elective out-patient surgery), etc., since it IS so readily and widely available. Shoot, you don’t even have to go behind the counter to get condoms in Wal-Mart any longer.

  • Matt

    Actually, the CNN debate question was perfectly appropriate. Senator Santorum holds, and has often expressed, views on contraception that place him far outside the American mainstream. Why shouldn’t candidates be asked about that in a debate?

  • sari

    Jimmy,
    Access and cost vary from region to region, but that question here pertains to media coverage.

    The question was relevant, because the President of the United States, whoever he or she is, wields tremendous power. Just as religious institutions are bridling over the HHS mandate, so, too, the public has the right to know where prospective candidates stand on issues. We’ve seen a number of bills come up which seek to forbid Sharia law; clearly hard questions would be asked of any Muslim candidate for president. Romney’s religious beliefs and observance have been scrutinized and criticized from every possible angle. Why give other candidates a pass?

    Insofar as the public feels that constraints might be placed on rights they currently hold, the question was legitimate. The problem was the lack of further questions, ones which acknowledged the other side’s concerns. This is a tough call: public welfare vs. religious liberty. The coverage needs to be thorough, impartial and nuanced, but to date it’s been none of those things.

  • Mollie

    Another question was asked of Santorum about his personal views on contraception (making it two more questions than we heard on, say, jobs) which ended with “You know, here’s the difference between me and the left, and they don’t get this. Just because I’m talking about it doesn’t mean I want a government program to fix it. That’s what they do. That’s not what we do.”

    How much should the media care about people’s personal views on contraception, so much as what their political views are? The media seem generally unable to understand that distinction and thereby conflate personal views on contraception with HHS mandates banning religious expression.

    That a question on *personal* *beliefs* about contraception use are judged relevant or more important than political views on the First Amendment religious freedoms is a great example of bias, particularly as it relates to this story. Therefore a ridiculous question about someone adhering to Catholic doctrine is elevated and a really interesting question about how to balance a government that controls insurance plan coverage and the inherent tension with the First Amendment is ignored.

    Because, remember, this is about how people like Mollie (and maybe you, too) hate women and are only pretending to care about religious freedom. Because of … contraception.

    Come on.

  • Matt

    Mollie, Senator Santorum has indicated that he would use the Presidential bully pulpit to promote his own views on contraception:
    “One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is … the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea …[Contraception’s] not OK, because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

    The question is not about his personal religious beliefs but rather about his stated intention to promote those beliefs through the power of the Presidency. That sure seems like something that ought to be explored in a debate.

  • Mollie

    Matt,

    Yes, the country is familiar with having presidents use their bully pulpit to preach and promote their own views on contraception. There’s one doing it right now.

    Does anyone care more about Obama’s personal promotion of contraception or his use of HHS to use the power of the state to rule over religious objections?

    Even Planned Parenthood would argue that the HHS mandate is more important. So would your most Catholic Catholic. So would your most civil libertarian.

    At the very least, at the very least, you have to see why the question would be so offensive outside the Obama White House, Nancy Pelosi’s office, or a Planned Parenthood clinic. Right?

  • Martha

    Matt, good question. Let us say that Candidate Bibbe L. Basher from the No Fun Party is running, and everyone knows that Mr. Basher’s stance on alcohol is “Heck, no, to the Devil’s Buttermilk!” since he is also a congregant of There’ll Be No Butter in Hell Third Baptipresbyodistapalian Church.

    Now, it is perfectly cromulent to ask Mr. Basher whether, if he gets elected, he will attempt to re-introduce Prohibition.

    However, if Mr. Basher is actually trying to oppose an attempt by the firm Booze’R’Uz (“Suppliers to Every Hooley since Granpa was a Bootlegger”) to get the local council to re-zone the designation of the church hall that Mr. Basher’s denominations rents out for wedding receptions from “religious” to “commercial entity”, so that they can cater receptions there with the wine flowing freely, then I think that’s a horse of a different colour. Mr. Basher may well think that you godless heathens can pickle your livers as you wend your way down the primrose path to damnation in your own dens of iniquity, but trying to make his church’s property one such den is another case entirely.

  • Martha

    “The question is not about his personal religious beliefs but rather about his stated intention to promote those beliefs through the power of the Presidency. That sure seems like something that ought to be explored in a debate.”

    Matt, what would you call President Obama’s statement at a speech in Pennsylvania (when he was running for the Presidency) that he didn’t want his daughters “punished with a baby”?

    “But it should also include — it should also include other, you know, information about contraception because, look, I’ve got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.”

    Does that seem like a stated intention on contraception that should have been explored through a media debate? And did that debate ever happen?

  • R9

    re: that Committee hearing, i think there were two panels, the first was all male, Carolyn Maloney stormed out, then a second panel did have women?

    (this is from researching a few blogs, not even seen mainstream media coverage so corect me if wrong)

    Also admist the outrage Sari’s probably asking the most interesting questions.

  • Jeff

    Sari writes: “Doesn’t anyone wonder why the antipathy towards religion and religious freedom?”

    I, for one, don’t wonder at all.

    Religion and religious freedom are threats to tyrants, to totalitarians, and to collaborators with both.

    It’s as simple as that.

    And it’s as true in the U.S. as it is in North Korea or anywhere else you’d care to name.

  • sari

    Martha and Mollie,
    Please don’t disregard what has made abortion such a hot button topic. A small but very verbal contingent of people have worked assiduously to overturn Roe V. Wade and to make access to abortion illegal. This has been backed by the Roman Catholic and other churches, even though their adherents’ right to carry to term has not been affected. Iow, they would like to revoke access for all people, regardless of affiliation or belief, and their rationale, for the most part, stems from religious belief. Some have gone farther and sought to ban access to contraceptives as well.

    Respect for religious rights needs to go both ways.

    Insofar as I feel that any candidate, be it Obama or Santorum, might step on my right to practice, I’d like the media to be asking questions relevant to women’s health and to the imposition of one religion’s beliefs upon another.

  • Parker

    Actually, the CNN debate question was perfectly appropriate. Senator Santorum holds, and has often expressed, views on contraception that place him far outside the American mainstream. Why shouldn’t candidates be asked about that in a debate?

    I notice that most of the candidates don’t eat one meal per day of fast food. Presumably, they do not do that, because they believe that eating that much fast food is bad for you. If this is the case, should a person who eats fast food daily, be concerned that all the candidates are going to try to stop their ability to get fast food.

    Would a question about whether they “believe in fast food” be appropriate?

  • SouthCoast

    Parker, it’s Lent. So of COURSE Santorum believes in “fast” food. As do I. As do millions of other Catholics!

  • Dave S

    @matt “Actually, the CNN debate question was perfectly appropriate. Senator Santorum holds, and has often expressed, views on contraception that place him far outside the American mainstream. Why shouldn’t candidates be asked about that in a debate?”

    Relationship of a candidate’s views to the mainstream, especially
    religious views, must not be the criteria the MSM is using to determine which questions to ask. After all, unlike one candidate in the last presidential election, the mainstream doesn’t include attendance at a church preaching black liberation theology of “God damn America,” but there were no questions asked about that in those debates. No, something else must be a work. Would it be advocacy journalism?

  • S.T. Edmonds

    Here’s an interesting angle on the VA law. An even stricter sonogram bill was passed in Texas last year, and the MSM didn’t bat an eyelash about it:

    http://www.texastribune.org/texas-legislature/2011-abortion-sonogram-bill/tx-and-va-sonogram-bills-faced-different-challenge/

    The main difference? Very few people in Texas care what the NYT, et al, think!

  • http://fkclinic.blogspot.com tioedong

    Another item not much discussed: The fact that a regulation can tell an insurance company what to cover, mainly it seems to get the Democrats reelected.

    This has deep implications for both the insurance industry and medical practice in the future.

    There is no good scientific study that shows women don’t use birth control because they can’t afford the pill…so where is the dire need here?

    And a lot of us who are doctors worry that if this stands, that in the future we will have to do what some government bureaucrat tells us to do (or not to do).

    And of course, our “conscience” protection is a lot weaker since Obama removed the Bush regulations protecting our jobs.

  • sari

    An even stricter sonogram bill was passed in Texas last year, and the MSM didn’t bat an eyelash about it:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/us/required-delay-between-sonogram-and-abortion-creates-logistical-issues-in-texas.html?_r=1&scp=5&sq=texas%20sonogram%20law&st=cse

    Note that both sides were interviewed and most sources named.

  • http://catherineguiles.com Cathy G.

    R9 is right – the two women from Christian colleges (including my alma mater) spoke at a second hearing, as the Grand Rapids Press reported: http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2012/02/calvin_college_president_obama.html
    And, Yahoo! had this story looking at the religious-liberty angle at similar colleges: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/not-just-catholic-controversy-protestant-colleges-threaten-drop-232819956.html

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    About the media asking questions on women’s health. In all the brouhaha about Santorum saying birth control can be dangerous to a woman’s health, the coverage would convince anyone that there is no health danger at all from “The Pill.” You would think the pill is as safe as M&M candy. That they’ve solved all the health problems associated with the pill.
    However, someone should do a follow-up to explain why ads for the pill have some of the longest warnings of very bad side effects–including everything from strokes to death.One woman told me that if you both smoke and take the pill you might as well be labeled: “Dead woman walking.”

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    I had meant to mention this Washington Post piece in my post, too, but forgot. I was reminded of it when I read this opinion piece on the Wall Street Journal:

    What Do Women Want?
    We got a chuckle out of this Washington Post piece:

    Over the past several weeks, Republicans have watched squeamishly as presidential contender Rick Santorum has waded into multiple controversies that risk alienating half the 2012 electorate: women.

    But in fact, Santorum has grown more popular among women while talking about his opposition to abortion, his disapproval of birth control and his view that the federal government shouldn’t pay for prenatal screenings. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows not only that Santorum is doing better among GOP women than he was a few weeks ago, but also that he is less unpopular–and also less well known–among Democratic and independent women than his Republican rivals Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

    So apparently women are more diverse in their views than the political stereotypes might suggest. Imagine that! It’s funny how the people who claim to be most devoted to the proposition that men and women are equal also are most devoted to the notion that all women do, or should, think alike.

    It doesn’t have to do with religion, per se, but does show how the media have been inadvertently sexist in their approach to this religious liberty issue, suggesting that women such as myself are unimportant and able to be ignored because of our views.

  • Parker

    SouthCoast… well played. But don’t forget us Anglicans.

  • http://returntorome.com Francis J. Beckwith

    I suppose that the Koran burning incident in Afghanistan turns on the question of whether there is a fundamental right to kindle.

  • Jeff

    Following up on Dave S’s excellent post, it’s worth nothing how the MSM also declined to ask a single question of the current president about his friend and supporter Bernadine Dohrn — the wife of another friend and supporter of his, the domestic terrorist William Ayers — who has gushed about how “groovy” it must have been for Charles Manson’s disciples to stick their knives into the womb of the very pregnant “pig” Sharon Tate. Clearly, the MSM has a very strange sense of what sorts of attitudes toward motherhood, children, and life itself are mainstream in America today — or at least mainstream outside the bubble that contains Obama, Ayers, Dohrn, and the MSM.

  • Martha

    sari, being on the other side of the question over here in Ireland, I am well accustomed to a “small but very verbal contingent of people (working) assiduously to …make access to abortion (legal).”

    There is one such attempt getting off the ground even now. We had a constitutional ban on divorce (it was actually an article of our constitution) and from about the 70s onwards, there were campaigns about this. First we had a referendum (because it is necessary to have a referendum to change, add or delete articles to our constitution) in 1986 which was beaten soundly. The second bite at the cherry happened in 1994, when a second referendum was carried in favour of divorce by a “Yes” vote of 50.28% to a “No” vote of 49.72″.

    That’s a difference of 0.56% in favour, and oddly enough – the very same people who had said that a margin of 26.96% against them was a sign that people wanted a change in the law, suddenly were all “It’s the law now, you can’t change it!” on a margin of 0.56% – when it went in their favour. We’ve had similar political campaigns on contraception (now legalised and liberalised), same-sex civil unions (now legal as of 2010, though there is a legal case ongoing since 2003 now gone to the Supreme Court of a lesbian couple married in Canada seeking Irish recognition of that marriage as a marriage and not just a civil partnership), and abortion (ongoing and very tangled, and if we’re talking about women’s health, even with a ban on abortion our maternal mortality rates currently stands at at one per 100,000 live births, which is regarded as one of the lowest rates in the world).

    So campaigns wrapping themselves in the mantle of democracy and majority voting on matters of morals does not impress me that greatly. If the government – any government – is trying to impose secular values on a religious group – any group – then I think that is a violation of religious liberty. Moreover, a government department deciding what does and does not constitute a religious organisation or activity could be pushed to ridiculous extremes; I’ve seen suggestions that if Catholics don’t want to work with the mandate, then let them run Catholic hospitals for Catholics only and get out of the public square (and stop taking public money is the usual corollary).

    But if we do that, then you may have the ludicrous scenario of someone badly injured or taken suddenly ill being turned away from a hospital emergency room because “I’m sorry, we can only legally treat Catholics and you’re not a Catholic”. Want to bet that scenario will never happen?

  • Harris

    Regarding last week’s hearing, Dr. Champion’s presence made things a bit more muddled, in that she spoke about her college’s refusal to provide post-coital drugs, seen as “abortifacients.” This muddle occurs because Rep. Issa had also denied testimony from a woman and student at Georgetown University. Cathy G’s links (@28) provide the details of her testimony; Sarah Kliff at the Washington Post gives the inside on the Georgetown student, Sandra Fluke.

    Given that the focus on the Administration was on employee health plans, the shift of focus to student health services can also be seen as being a bit off topic given the overall debate. It was good for color, but lacks in applicability; what arguments that were presented on questions of religious liberty (see Champion’s testimony) were largely conventional conservative points and already covered. Ina a word: No news, no coverage.

  • Harris

    I would also call attention to Dr. Garrett’s testimony, available on the Oklahoma Christian website. It is detailed and well-argued.

  • Jeff

    For those of you inside or outside the MSM who “dislike” my raising the question of Bernadine Dohrn — too darn bad, you’ll just have to deal.

    Here is Ms. Dohrn in her own words:

    “Dig it! First they killed those pigs and then they put a fork in pig Tate’s belly. Wild! Offing those rich pigs with their own forks and knives, and then eating a meal in the same room, far out! The Weathermen dig Charles Manson!”

    President Obama clearly doesn’t have a moral scruple against associating with someone like this.

    If you don’t have that scruple either, then that’s just fine.

    Well, no, on second thought, it’s *not* just fine — but it is what it is.

    In any case, don’t go giving me a thumbs-down simply for acknowledging facts that you’d rather not face.

    Face them you must — the truth will out, at least on this website, at least on this thread.

    Have a nice day.

  • kentuckienne

    Just to clarify — the federal government requiring religious organizations to provide contraceptive coverage for their employees is a governmental overreach and an assault on religious and personal freedom, but a state mandating the types of invasive procedures that doctors must perform and patients must undergo somehow isn’t?

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    kentuckienne,

    I’m a borderline anarchist so you can imagine how I feel about most government actions. But that’s not the purpose of the blog. We just want to focus on how the mainstream media covers these issues and whether they do so accurately, fairly and the like.

  • John Pack Lambert

    Has Rick Santorum ever proposed a law that would ban the use of birth control? No.

    What next, will they ask “Since alchohol use is the latest hot topic, which candidates believe in alchohol use and, if not, why?”

    That question is clearly designed to attack Mitt Romney on issues that have no application to federal policy, and this question is exactly the same. Santorum has never argued that the federal government should have the authority to ban anyone, no matter their marital status, the ability to use birth control. This is a false question that is designed to create a religious test for office. It is biased and wrong journalism.

  • John Pack Lambert

    The AP and their fellow-travelers in the attack on life and liberty even lied about the Virginia bill. The key quote is “to perform a sonogram in advance of the abortion, using a transvaginal ultrasound if necessary, to determine the gestational age of the fetus.” The bill only required the “invasive” procedure when that was the only way to determine how far along the pregnancy was. To fail to determine how far along the pregnancy is is to open up the possibility of deadly mistakes, which often lead to the death of the mother. This is a bill to protect the health of the mother, but the AP and its associates will not let anyone speak this truth.


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