At least one government watchdog is learning to bark again.
USA Today’s Opinion section dedicated “Today’s Debate” to religious freedom – or the fight over Obamacare’s contraception mandate. In a January 13 piece entitled, “Obamacare Overreach Tramples Little Sisters of the Poor,” USA Today rebelled against its own (media) kind to call out the Obama administration for having “picked a fight with Catholics and other religious groups.” Among other faults, the article found the administration’s “position” on the mandate “constitutionally suspect, politically foolish and ultimately unproductive.”
The Supreme Court recently consented to hear appeals challenging the contraception mandate, which would force employers to provide or consent to free contraception and abortion-inducing drugs for employees.
As a prime target of the mandate, USA Today cited the Little Sisters of the Poor: a group of nuns who care for the poor and elderly, and who refuse to comply with the mandate due to religious belief. Their case, USA Today argued, makes the administration look a “political loser.”
In her “Opposing View,” also published in USA Today, Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, argued, “No one’s freedom to practice religion is compromised.” The administration, she said, “is bending over backward to ensure” freedom of religion. How gracious of it!
The Little Sisters are not included in the 350,000 or so churches exempted from the mandate. But, Richards asserted, “the only thing the Little Sisters must do is fill out a one-page form stating that it objects to providing contraception” to avoid millions in fines. Ah, the so-called “compromise” that isn’t – an accounting trick that moves money around in a way that allows the administration to pretend the contraception coverage isn’t actually coming from the nuns. (In somewhat the same way Planned Parenthood pretends that the hundreds of thousands of abortions it performs aren’t subsidized tax dollars.)
USA Today, however, wasn’t having it, explaining that the Sisters must “sign a certification that allows their insurance companies to provide it [birth control] instead” that arguably “makes them complicit in an act that violates a tenant of their faith.”
But for Richards, phony “women’s health issues” trump the actual religious convictions protected in the First Amendment. “The real issues on the table are health care, financial security and,” Richards concluded, “basic fairness for women.”
Tell that to the Little Sisters.
USA Today stands alone among major media outlets in bashing the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, with “ABC warning "Your Employer Might Be Pro-Life!” and The Washington Post misleading on public opinion in regards to the mandate.
— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.