Appalling: NY Times editorial distorts, misleads, and lies to readers on HHS Mandate

With many political debates, I try to give opponents the benefit of the doubt on intentions. Sure, raising taxes is a bad thing, but some politicians and pundits believe higher taxes will benefit society. Some people think we need to spend more, and others really fear climate change.


When it comes to the HHS abortifacient/contraception/sterilization mandate, however, I’ve almost stopped being that generous with the left’s media and thought leaders. This New York Times Magazine editorial is a prime example as to why. Almost from start to finish, the piece misleads and misdirects readers about the mandate, its opponents, and religious freedom.

Here are several examples:

First, the editorial says “for-profit corporations will ask the Supreme Court to take a radical turn and allow them to impose their religious views on their employees” by not providing contraception coverage as required by the mandate. This is a falsehood for at least two reasons: For one, the individual insurance market is an option for coverage, and colleges, high schools, Wal-Marts, and many other organizations provide birth control for free or very low prices.

Furthermore, most employees are “at-will” employees, meaning they can leave anytime they wish. If they want employer-covered contraception, plenty of companies will provide it.

In other words, many options exists for employees — and I haven’t even mentioned abstinence yet, which is 100 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.


Next, the editorial says exemptions from the mandate “would significantly harm other people.” This is clearly not true, as pointed out above, because options abound.

Third, the editorial makes the claim that a Supreme Court decision against the mandate “would flout the First Amendment, which forbids government from favoring one religion over another — or over nonbelievers.” In fact, the mandate gives special treatment to those who believe contraception, abortion drugs, and sterilization, and puts those who disagree with the mandate at a distinct First Amendment disadvantage with regards to speech and religion.

The editorial also argues that the mandate does not include coverage of abortion-inducing drugs:

The companies’ owners remain free to worship as they choose and to argue (incorrectly) as much as they want that some of the contraceptive drugs and devices on the F.D.A.’s list actually induce abortions.

It has been proven time and time again that the mandate covers abortion drugs. For just two examples of this, check out what Live Action’s Drew Belsky and I wrote a couple of months ago, or check out this incredibly thorough analysis of that question by Just Facts.


Finally, the editorial states that “the government plainly has a “compelling” interest in reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions, and in furthering women’s health and equality.” Actually, women’s health would benefit from fewer contraceptives, and contraception use only lowers the abortion rate after increasing it dramatically. And if the editorial board wants fewer “unintended pregnancies,” it should start with encouraging abstinence. Pregnancy is a fairly common result of engaging in sexual relations, after all.

There are other statements in the editorial that need to be debunked, but this is just a sampling of the misleading and outright falsehoods it possesses.


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Ed Morrissey 1:20 PM | July 17, 2024