Leave it to liberal host Martin Bashir to bring on the president of Planned Parenthood to trash individuals with religious objections to the ObamaCare contraception mandate. Speaking with Cecile Richards on February 6, Bashir conducted a Planned Parenthood advocacy session rather than an actual interview.And, naturally, Bashir failed to bring on an opposing viewpoint either in the same segment or a subsequent one.
Indeed, during the chat with Richards -- who was a fixture at the Lean Forward network during last year's "war on women" meme -- Bashir acted as cheerleader for the nation's largest abortion provider. "In yet another sign of his willingness to respect religious convictions, the president has amended the Affordable Care Act in relation to the availability of birth control," Bashir insisted, puffing the president as a magnanimous compromiser when it has been the president's own administration that has put religious organizations into a needless dilemma regarding their First Amendment freedoms in the first place.
As the segment continued, Bashir lobbed softball questions at Richards, enabling her to spout her talking points, “So what are these people talking about when they say it’s much worse now?" Bashir helpfully complained of conservative opponents of the administration's contraception mandate.
Bashir tried to portray the legitimate concerns faith-based organizations have with paying for contraception as “insane” going so far as to prompt Richard about how concerned she is at the efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Rather than pushing back at any of Richards's talking points, Bashir dutifully parroted them, at one point noting that "the truth is that what you do at Planned Parenthood, 97% of it concerns women's health.It has nothing to do with terminating pregnancies." Nowhere in the segment did it occur to Bashir that millions of Americans object to the federal government funding an organization that performs the most abortions in the nation, even if they found a way to crunch the numbers to minimize how central abortion is to their work as an organization.
On top of all this, Bashir ended the segment by actually thanking Ms. Richards for her efforts.It goes without saying that thanking an interview subject for the work he or she does is an explicit endorsement of their organization, something no ostensibly objective journalist should do.
See relevant transcript below.
February 6, 2013
4:50 p.m. EST
BARACK OBAMA: After the many genuine concerns that have been raised over the last few weeks, as well as frankly the more cynical desire on the part of some to make this into a political football. Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care. That includes contraceptive services. No matter where they work.
BASHIR: But despite this effort at compromise, the pro-life caucus in Congress says the amendment offers no relief whatsoever. And an Archbishop in Philadelphia says the new rules may actually make things worse. Let's ask someone who knows a good deal about this issue. Cecilia Richards is the President of Planned Parenthood and she joins us. Cecile welcome.
CECILE RICHARDS: Thank you.
BASHIR: Does this make matters worse? Does it make it more difficult?
RICHARDS: Absolutely not. And actually what the white house announced last week simply clarifies what they have already said. Which is religious churches, places of worship do not have to provide birth control to their employees. That was a very reasoned compromise that the White House came up with that I think it makes a lot of sense. I mean, Planned Parenthood thinks everyone should get access to birth control. But what they said last week essentially says your boss can't decide whether or not you get birth control. And this is -- birth control is the most commonly prescribed medicine for women in America. 99% of women use it. And so that's the basic principle that the president is standing up for here.
BASHIR: So what are these people talking about when they say it’s much worse now
RICHARDS: I have no idea what they're talking about. It’s not based in fact. It's simply I think these are folks who don't want women to have access to birth control. What we’re seeing already some politicians saying we have more than 45 lawsuits now fighting against the right of women to get birth control no matter where they work. It's just insane in the 21st century that we're having this conversation.
BASHIR: It absolutely is. And the opposition to women controlling their own bodies continues. Let me give you a few examples. In Arkansas, State Senator Jason Rapert is proposing the strictest ban on abortion in the nation making it illegal as early as ten to twelve weeks into pregnancy. He originally wanted it to be as applied as early as six weeks when you can't even designate or denote know someone is pregnant in some cases. In North Dakota is considering a similar bill. And lawmakers in Mississippi are trying to shut down the only remaining abortion clinic in the state. How concerned are you as the president of Planned Parenthood at these localized efforts to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that's 40 years old?
RICHARDS: Well, I'm desperately concerned because what we're seeing here is a pattern. First we saw at election in November the largest gender gap ever recorded history in a presidential election. Overwhelmingly rejected Mitt Romney's positions which were to overturn Roe, get rid of Planned Parenthood. And yet now we're seeing politicians going right back at it. It’s like nothing has changed. And the irony of course Martin is the same folk who are passing these bills unconstitutional laws that would make abortion illegal and inaccessible in these states are the same folks who are fighting against us providing birth control for women. The very thing that actually helps prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place.
BASHIR: Can you explain the logic of that to our audience.
RICHARDS: I mean I think what we're seeing unfortunately is some members, I think an extreme wing of the Republican Party who simply want to take reproductive health care access away from women. I don’t understand it. It doesn't make any sense. And for the three million women who come to Planned Parenthood every year, many of them who come for birth control. It's absolutely nonsensical.
BASHIR: And the truth is that what you do at Planned Parenthood, 97% of it concerns women's health. It has nothing to do with terminating pregnancies.
RICHARDS: Right, well it's preventive care. And I think that’s the bottom line here. If you want to prevent unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion, the most important thing is to make sure women have access to birth control. Which is why I cannot believe in the 21st century we're fighting over whether or not women are going to have birth control covered in their insurance plans.
BASHIR: It is extraordinary but thank you for your efforts.
BASHIR: Thank you. Cecile Richards, thank you so much. And we'll be right back.