From the nightly news shows to print and online media, the coverage's tone alternated between wonder and outrage. —Ross Douthat
The mainstream media is drawing criticism from its own for what's seen as a pro-choice bias in the reporting of the ongoing controversy over the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation's decision to stop providing nearly $700,000 in grants to Planned Parenthood.
The money goes to help cover the costs of mammograms for low-income women, according to national columnists who are looking at the topic. The foundation reversed its decision under the pressure, but in addition to concern over the reporting, two columnists say far more is at stake than some funding.
They cautioned that competing foundational rights could be lost in the discussion and actions by the foundation and the media. Like the right to follow one's conscience or the right to put your money where you want to put your money.
"From the nightly news shows to print and online media, the coverage's tone alternated between wonder and outrage — wonder that anyone could possibly find Planned Parethood even remotely controversial and outrage that the Komen foundation had 'politicized' the cause of women's health," wrote Ross Douthat in the New York Times.
For The Washington Post's Kathleen Parker, "The more compelling questions concern a person's or an institution's freedom of conscience and the right to act upon one's moral beliefs without fear of intimidation and/or government coercion."
Here's a short history: Komen had been providing the grant to help fund breast cancer screening. Planned Parenthood doesn't actually provide the screening directly, but was to use the money to reimburse women it refers elsewhere with the Komen funds. The foundation has said the decision to withdraw funding has nothing to do with abortion, which Planned Parenthood does provide, but for which the grant was not supposed to be used.
In her column, Parker paired the Komen funding issue with the equally controversial question of whether the Obama administration's requirement under the Affordable Care Act that contraception be paid for by insurance companies — even those owned by the Catholic Church, which bans contraception — is fair or appropriate. Some of the contraception could involve abortifacient drugs.
Both cases, she wrote, "are exposing the dangerous extent to which some pro-choice advocates, including the president of the United States, are willing to tread on fundamental freedoms in order to impose and secure ideological purity."
And she concluded that "these immediate battles may be about abortion or contraception, but ultimately they are about whether we stand firm on our nation's core beliefs in freedom of conscience and religious liberty. The stakes could not be higher and, though surely political, the endgame shouldn't be about Republican or Democratic war spoils."
"Conservative complaints about media bias are sometimes overdrawn. But on the abortion issue, the press's prejudices are often absolute," Douthat wrote, "its biases blatant and its blinders impenetrable. In many newsrooms and television studios across the country, Planned Parenthood is regarded as the equivalent of, well, the Komen foundation: an apolitical, high-minded and humanitarian institution whose work no rational person — and certainly no self-respecting woman — could possibly question or oppose."
Both sides seem to be winning in terms of funding as a result of the ongoing controversy. According to Time Magazine, "By the end of last week, Komen had decided that Planned Parenthood could apply for future grants to provide breast-cancer detection and education. But having raised in a matter of days five times the $600,000 that it stood to lose in grant funds, Planned Parenthood isn't going to need Komen's money anytime soon."
And the Daily Caller noted that within two days of pulling the grant from Planned Parenthood, donations to the Komen foundation had gone up 100 percent. People are taking sides and showing where they stand by pulling out their checkbooks.