NY Times Lets Liberals Boost Obama Admin. Attack on Religious Groups

John H. Cushman, Jr. of the New York Times almost completely slanted to the left in his Friday article about the Obama administration's decision to force religious organizations to include free contraception in their employee insurance plans. Cushman quoted from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, liberal Senator Barbara Boxer and the president of notorious pro-abortion "Catholics for Choice," but only included a six-word quote from the other side of the debate.

The writer led his post on the liberal paper's political blog, The Caucus, by noting that "the Obama administration said it would give religious organizations one additional year to comply with a new policy requiring employers to provide free contraception services in insurance plans. Roman Catholic bishops and other church leaders had protested the new rules, which were announced in August."

Cushman then acted as stenographer for the White House by stating that the new mandate was "designed to drive down the rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion by making birth control available under the preventive health care services that all insurers must cover without a deductible or co-payment." He added that "churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship were already exempt, but some religious leaders wanted the exemption broadly expanded. Instead, the administration said after considering the request that non-profit institutions like hospitals and universities affiliated with churches could take a year longer to comply."

Towards the end of the article, the New York Times journalist included three quotes from Sebelius, one from Senator Boxer, and from Jon O'Brien of "Catholics for Choice," a group which was repeatedly been denounced by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for its support of abortion. Speaking of the Catholic bishops, Cushman again acknowledged their opposition to the new mandate by including the paltry six-word quote.

"This additional year will allow these organizations more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule," Ms. Sebelius said. "We intend to require employers that do not offer coverage of contraceptive services to provide notice to employees, which will also state that contraceptive services are available at sites such as community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income-based support."

"I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services," she said.

Catholic bishops had called the rule "an unprecedented attack on religious liberty."

But Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, welcomed the decision as "a victory for common sense and scientific advice in the interests of the common good."

Congressional Democrats had lobbied the White House against expanding the religious exemption also cheered the move.

"This is a critical step forward for women's health that will prevent abortions and ensure that millions of American families have access to affordable birth control," said Senator Barbara Boxer of California in a statement.

Apparently, the writer couldn't be bothered to find the Friday statement from New York City Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who spoke on behalf of the bishops' conference: "To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty."

Even some Catholic Democrats expressed reservations about the mandate. Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter, a publication which dissents from Catholic teaching in several key areas, labeled the HHS decision a "disaster," and blunted stated that the Obama administration had "jumped over the First Amendment to coerce religious organizations to do something we find morally objectionable. They have given people who loved the Affordable Care Act reason for pause, great pause. They have given the Republicans a huge battering ram with which to beat swing voting Catholics over the head."

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.