Opening a segment today on the Obama administration's latest overture to assuage concerns of religious organizations about the ObamaCare contraception mandate, MSNBC host Alex Wagner came out swinging with a patently false assertion that survives as a liberal meme to this day. "The great 2012 debate over women's health concerns begot all-male hearings on contraception and a national smear campaign directed at a Georgetown Law student," Wagner noted as she introduced a clip of Rush Limbaugh's criticism of Fluke's "testimony" last February before the House Democrats' steering and policy committee.
But in point of fact, the Feb. 16, 2012 House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearings did include two women who testified on the issue of religious freedom and the ObamaCare mandate. Both of them, Dr. Allison Dabbs Garrett and Laura Champion, M.D., voiced no moral objection to birth control per se, but testified rather in opposition to the mandate and how it would force their schools to cover abortifacient drugs like Plan B.
Dabbs Garrett, the senior vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma Christian University, began her testimony by noting her four objections to the mandate (emphases mine):
We oppose the Obama Administration's employer mandate requiring that all health insurance plans cover
abortifacient drugs for four reasons:
1. Requiring our plan to cover abortion-inducing drugs will place the University and plan
participants in the position of subsidizing the purchase of drugs that they believe causes the
destruction of a human life;
2. The exemption from the requirement that plans cover contraceptives and abortifacients is far too
narrow and violates the First Amendment;
3. There are reasonable alternatives to the employer mandate; and
4. The President’s announcement does not present a workable solution.
Champion, medical director at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, noted that her institution permits and even prescribes contraception, but that her school's objections only extend to birth control pills that could induce abortions, like Plan B (emphases mine):
I am concerned about the many specific facets of these regulations and I am concerned as a health provider about the wide sweeping regulatory overreach that the mandate on contraceptives signals. Contraception is not controversial at our school. Clinicians write prescriptions that include contraception for a variety of reasons, including the prevention of pregnancy. However, abortifacient agents are not prescribed, nor are they covered in our health care plan. The advocacy of these agents is profoundly inconsistent with the belief system of our college and our religion.
To force the access of such agents upon our students would violate our religious liberty. Calvin College is committed to ethical, moral and spiritual higher education. To teach one set of values and beliefs and then to provide abortifacient agents for students would lack integrity. We cannot expect to train ethically minded leaders for the future and then require a compromise of values and beliefs by the colleges and universities that supply such leaders.
I want to underscore that our College and our Health Services Department would be severely harmed by the mandate requiring abortion causing drugs. We challenge our students to live out the values they believe. Our intent and purpose is that our entire faculty, staff, and students are living examples of believers trying to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. We make every effort to ensure that our practices follow our beliefs. Forcing Health Services to be part of the distribution of abortificient agents is an affront to our principles and sends an inaccurate message to our students. Requiring coverage of abortificient agents is in direct contradiction to the spiritual and behavioral standards that Calvin College expects of ourselves and our students.
Likewise, Dabbs Garrett noted in her testimony that Oklahoma Christian has no problem with birth control per se, just birth control that can induce an abortion (emphases mine):
We have no concerns about allowing our plan to cover contraception; rather, our concerns deal with the coverage of abortive agents. The government should not force institutions like Oklahoma Christian University to offer a health plan that covers abortifacients like Plan B and ella.
Of course, that's a more complex portrait than the one MSNBC wants to paint, which is religious men standing in the way of college-aged women having access to birth control. That is simply not the case, but reporting the nuances of the issue doesn't help to further the liberal narrative that the "Lean Forward" network would like to run with.