Washington Post Boosts Liberal 'Wedge Issue' Spin on Birth Control Mandate

On Monday, the Washington Post's Greg Sargent forwarded a liberal talking point, that the Obama administration's controversial mandate for coverage of abortifacients and contraception without a co-pay would be used as a "wedge issue" by Republicans. Sargent also highlighted a split inside the GOP over the so-called "accommodation" made by the President on Friday.

The writer began his article, "Birth control as wedge issue against GOP, ctd.,"on his "Plum Line" blog by forwarding the White House's own labeling about the Friday proposal: "Now that Obama has reached an accommodation on birth control that has won some support on both sides of the debate, could it now become a wedge issue against the GOP, as I speculated the other day?"

Sargent continued by highlighting that "Mitch McConnell vowed over the weekend to turn the battle against Obama's proposal into a crusade that won’t end until the White House backs down. But as Igor Volsky notes, two GOP Senators — Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins — have voiced cautious support for Obama's compromise, breaking with the idea that it's an assault on religious liberty." As you might expect, the Washington Post blogger didn't point out that the two senators from Maine are among the most moderate in the Republican caucus. He also buried the detail that Volsky is the Health Care and LGBT Editor for the left-wing website Think Progress.

After excerpting from statements given by Snowe and Collins, Sargent gave his left-leaning take on how the controversy might continue as a political issue:

Make no mistake: This dynamic will be crucial going forward. If more Republicans decide that Obama’s proposal is politically or substantively difficult to attack, it could encourage Dems to express greater unity behind the plan, and further marginalize opponents of it, making it tougher to continue this fight.

So where are Senators like Kelly Ayotte, Lisa Murkowski, and Scott Brown on this? A spokesman for Murkowski declined comment. It's hard to imagine Brown, who's facing a tough challenge from Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, voicing opposition to the idea — as McConnell put it over the weekend — that requiring insurers to cover birth control as a health care expense for women constitutes interfering "with your religious beliefs."


Also: What vehicle will Republicans support? Will they back the amendment offered by GOP Rep. Roy Blunt, which would allow either employers or insurers to deny any health coverage they find morally objectionable, at a time when polls show that requiring employers to cover birth control is backed by nearly six in 10 independents and nearly seven in 10 women?

The writer later update his post to include statements from Senator Ayotte (who makes no secret that she's pro-life) and from John Donnelly, a spokesman for Senator Brown.

Back on February 3, 2012, Sargent labeled Democratic Senators Mark Begich and Jon Tester as "relatively conservative," despite the fact that both received a 100% approval ratings from pro-abortion group NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood.

[H/t: Elizabeth Scalia on Twitter.]

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center