On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, co-host Gayle King adopted liberal spin on the ObamaCare contraception mandate being challenged in the Supreme Court: "It pits the rights of a woman's access to contraception against a company's religious freedom." That description of the case was nearly identical to the false framing of the issue in Monday's New York Times. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed on This Morning, correspondent Jan Crawford teed up the faulty argument: "Women's rights groups and doctors say the cases are about women's health." A clip ran of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists president Jeanne Conry ranting: "As a physician, I need a number of ways to treat women, and treat them appropriately. And I don't need an employer coming into my exam room and telling me how to treat a patient."
Crawford did note employers arguing the mandate "violates our religious beliefs" and included a sound bite of Hobby Lobby founder David Green pointing out: "It's our rights that are being infringed upon to require us to do something that's against our conscience."
In contrast to CBS treating the case as one set of "rights" versus another, both NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America accurately reported on Tuesday that the legal battle was about the Obama administration trying to force employers to pay for contraceptive services that violate their religious beliefs.
Today's fill-in news reader Tamron Hall wondered: "Should for-profit companies be required to provide free contraceptives to their employees if doing so violates the owner's religious beliefs?" GMA's fill-in news reader Amy Robach similarly explained: "The justices will hear arguments over whether family-owned companies with religious objections to birth control, like the retailer Hobby Lobby, are required to offer such coverage to their workers."
In the report on Today, correspondent Pete Williams focused on the question: "Can a business, a for-profit corporation, claim it has freedom of religion?" A sound bite was featured of a lawyer for one of the companies opposing the mandate stating: "This case is entirely, 100% about whether the government can coerce families – families of faith – to buy these life-destroying products and coverage for this for other people."
Williams did outline the defense of the ObamaCare mandate, but did not frame it as an argument for women's rights: "But the Obama Justice Department argues that freedom of religion is a right of individuals and of churches, but not of profit-making companies. And women's groups say 98% of women in America use contraceptives at some point in their lives."
Unlike CBS and the Times, NBC featured a sound bite of Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards making the women's rights assertion, rather than have a reporter make the claim: "What's at stake here is the rights of millions of American women who use birth control versus the personal views of a handful of CEOs."
Williams concluded: "The companies say the law requires them to violate their religious principles or pay millions of dollars in fines for failing to provide the coverage."
Here is a full transcript of the CBS This Morning segment:
8:09 AM ET
GAYLE KING: The Supreme Court hears arguments this morning in one of the most closely watched cases of the year. It pits the rights of a woman's access to contraception against a company's religious freedom. Jan Crawford is at the high court to look at the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Jan, good morning.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Birth Control Battle; High Court Hears Challenge to Health Care Mandate]
JAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning. So the new health care law requires companies to offer insurance that includes free birth control. Religious employers across the country started filing law suits, they said, "That violates our religious beliefs." The Court agreed to decide that issue in a case involving Hobby Lobby. It's a nationwide change of craft supply stores that was founded by David and Barbara Green 42 years ago.
DAVID GREEN: It's our rights that are being infringed upon to require us to do something that's against our conscience.
CRAWFORD: Hobby Lobby provides coverage for birth control pills. But as David Green explains in this company video, the health care law forces him to also cover other contraceptives, such as the morning-after pill and the IUD. Lori Windham is a lawyer for the Greens.
LORI WINDHAM: They believe that these drugs could take a human life, that they would be tantamount to an abortion and that's not something they can be a part of.
CRAWFORD: But women's rights groups and doctors say the cases are about women's health. Jeanne Conry is president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
JEANNE CONRY: As a physician, I need a number of ways to treat women, and treat them appropriately. And I don't need an employer coming into my exam room and telling me how to treat a patient.
CRAWFORD: Now, if you had any doubt about the level of interest in this case, there is a line of people around the block. Some people have been waiting in line since the weekend. A decision is expected in June. Charlie, Gayle, Clarissa.
CHARLIE ROSE: Jan, thanks.