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Mainstream Media Misleads on Abortion, Obamacare, and HHS Mandate

With the HHS Mandate in the Supreme Court, liberal media outlets are misrepresenting the reality surrounding the debate.

Protesters stand outside the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse Friday, March 23, 2012 in Phoenix. during the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally. The rally is part of a nationwide Rally for Religious Freedom which is a reaction against the Obama Administration’s HHS mandate that will obligate Catholic organizations to provide contraceptive services to their employees. (AP Photo/Matt York)\n

Just over two years ago, the Obama administration implemented its controversial, unconstitutional, and anti-life mandate requiring insurance coverage of abortion drugs, contraception, and sterilization.

While its supporters have often been shockingly dishonest in their representation of the facts since that time, they have been extraordinarily aggressive in light of the mandate's hearing in front of the Supreme Court this week.

The misrepresentations have run the gamut, but let's just look at two examples of rhetoric from the New York Times and Media Matters that claim the mandate does not require coverage of abortion drugs.

Protesters stand outside the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse  Friday, March 23, 2012 in Phoenix. during the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally. The rally is part of a nationwide Rally for Religious Freedom which is a reaction against the Obama Administration�s HHS mandate that will obligate Catholic organizations to provide contraceptive services to their employees. (AP Photo/Matt York) Protesters stand outside the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse Friday, March 23, 2012 in Phoenix. during the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally. The rally is part of a nationwide Rally for Religious Freedom which is a reaction against the Obama Administration�s HHS mandate that will obligate Catholic organizations to provide contraceptive services to their employees. (AP Photo/Matt York)

First, the Times.

On Sunday, I fact-checked the prominent newspaper's editorial on the mandate. Among other flaws, the editorial claimed that opponents of the mandate “incorrectly” claim the “drugs and devices...actually induce abortions.”

Specifically, as proven by Just Facts, intrauterine devices (IUDs) are covered by the mandate, and even the federal government admits IUDs prevent implantation. (Also, check out a fact-check Live Action's Drew Belsky and I did earlier this year on Media Matters, the Times, Pew Research, Politico, and NBC.) So the editorial is very much off-base in its claims.

Media Matters made errors in two different attacks on social conservatives. First, in a blog post going after Baylor President Kenneth Starr:

The paper allowed Starr to prop up the falsehood that the contraceptives the Greens find objectionable are "abortifacients," claiming that there is "substantial empirical support" for the position. In fact, as has been repeatedly explained by medical and public health experts, the overwhelming empirical data has shown that the contraceptives challenged are not abortifacients.

In fact, USA Today could look to its own reporting on this issue to debunk Starr's false characterization of these challenged forms of birth control. The paper previously quoted an expert for the American Academy of Pediatrics explaining that the morning-after pill "absolutely does not cause abortion." In response, the director of a Christian public policy group admitted that at most, opponents of emergency contraception can only claim the FDA's labeling on the topic is "inconclusive." This unscientific hedging is currently rejected by the National Institutes of Health, the Mayo Clinic, and the FDA's counterparts in Europe.

Media Matters' claims appear to boil down to the following: Many reputable organizations say Plan B, Ella, and other contraceptives do not cause abortion. Yet, while it is true that the data on these drugs is mixed, Media Matters completely ignores something that indisputably causes an abortion: IUDs.

Daniel Cronin, Timothy Dolan Cardinal Timothy Dolan, left, Archbishop of New York and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, speaks with Hartford Archbishop Daniel Cronin, at the USCCB's biannual meeting Wednesday, June 13, 2012, in Atlanta. The national gathering is the bishops' first since dioceses filed a dozen lawsuits against an Obama administration mandate that most employers provide health insurance covering birth control. The rule generally exempts houses of worship, but faith-affiliated hospitals, charities and schools would have to comply. (AP/David Goldman) 

In some ways, this claim is more devious than what the Times claimed in its editorial. While the latter simply denied abortions would ever take place, Media Matters criticized drugs, thus giving a twisted credence to its arguments.

Ironically, the post is proven wrong by a link it provides to a Times article that says the following:

By contrast, scientists say, research suggests that the only other officially approved form of emergency contraception, the copper intrauterine device (also a daily birth control method), can work to prevent pregnancy after an egg has been fertilized.

So, yes, even the Times will off-handedly admit IUDs cause abortions, even if it is using an inaccurate version of what pregnancy is. (Note the implication that implantation is what causes pregnancy, not fertilization.)

Finally, in a video put online on Sunday, Media Matters claims it is a myth that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a whole will cover abortions. (It does not prove its case – it merely states the law does not cover abortions, and moves on.) This is a falsehood for at least two reasons:

First, as proven above, IUDs cause abortions and are included in the Health and Human Services Mandate.

Second, Executive Order 13535 – which was signed by President Obama on March 24, 2010 – flatly says the ACA will fund abortions with federal money:

Following the recent enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the "Act"), it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), consistent with a longstanding Federal statutory restriction that is commonly known as the Hyde Amendment.

What Media Matters may have meant was that the ACA will not fund so-called “elective” abortions – those not related to life of the mother, incest, or rape – but the abortifacient requirement in the HHS Mandate shows that this Executive Order has been violated by the same administration that signed it.

Media Matters and the Times are not the only media organizations promoting the myth that the HHS Mandate does not require abortion coverage – Think Progress, Raw Story, and Talking Points Memo did the same thing Monday morning – but they are a representative sampling of the dishonesty by abortion advocates about the mandate's effects on the unborn.

Supports of an abortion bill cheer during an anti-abortion rally at the Texas Capitol, Monday, July 8, 2013, in Austin, Texas. The fight over access to abortion in Texas resumed Monday with thousands expected to attend a marathon Senate hearing and a nighttime anti-abortion rally at the Capitol. Credit: AP Supports of an abortion bill cheer during an anti-abortion rally at the Texas Capitol, Monday, July 8, 2013, in Austin, Texas. The fight over access to abortion in Texas resumed Monday with thousands expected to attend a marathon Senate hearing and a nighttime anti-abortion rally at the Capitol. Credit: AP 

The inaccuracies do not end with the media, however. As I reported earlier this week, during the actual Supreme Court arguments, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that the Affordable Care Act "passed overwhelmingly, both houses of Congress. People from all sides of the political spectrum voted for it." Reality is very different:

When the law passed in the House of Representatives, zero Republicans voted for it and 34 Democrats voted against it. In the Senate, zero Republicans supported the Act.

Also during the arguments, the government's lawyer denied that abortifacients are covered under the mandate, saying there was "no law like that on the books," and that no law "requires for-profit corporations to provide abortions.”

Like Media Matters and the Times, however, he ignored that an agency under HHS -- ironically, the same department that initiated the mandate -- "has concluded that intrauterine devices – which are required under the mandate – prevent implantation. Without implantation, a fertilized egg, also known as a human being, will die."

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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