More Tea

By on February 7, 2012

more hot water

The HHS controversy on Women’s Health Policy has moved into Day Something. Boiling water continues being added to the discussion. Various parties stir the pot vigorously. Something is brewing.

High officials of the Catholic Church add their share. “This is the government interfering in the workings of the church,” says a spokesperson for the U. S. Conference of Catholic bishops. Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who leads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, went even further, declaring  “It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle,”  in a message to the Armed Services.

Meanwhile on the campaign trail, Governor Romney promises “I stand with the Catholic bishops and all religious organizations in their strenuous objection to this liberty- and conscience-stifling regulation,”  It has been pointed out that such a mandate was part of the health care reforms he introduced while Massachusetts governor. This may be unfair to a politician  who is used to changing his opinions like most people change their underwear. His opponent Newt Gingrich is not far away, adding scalding water of his own. “This is a tremendous infringement of religious liberty. Every time you turn around the secular government is shrinking the rights of religious institutions in America.”

This morning on Morning Joe, the MSNBC cable political show, talking heads dithered about exactly what was in the mandate, as they  blasted it or defended it. Mika Brzezinski struggled to reveal she had called the White House to get clarification. She could hardly get a word in. On other channels, commentators weighed in as though they had been on that call. What ever happened to straight reporting? Though Ms. Sebelius is on the record about what was intended, journalists continue to ask rhetorically “What was the Administration thinking?”

Hello! This latest tempest-in-a-teapot is decidedly a failure for the White House, who should have been out front with the facts and ready to field questions. It is a bigger failure for the Press who apparently would still largely prefer to offer opinions than dig for facts. If they do not ask the crucial questions about this, who will? Who else is better positioned to dig for the facts than the fourth estate? If the public is not being properly informed about this mandate, the fault lies squarely with them.

Women with a job that includes health insurance must be asking what is going on here? If I work in, say, the motor pool at Notre Dame University, does this mean I can’t get birth control pills? If I become pregnant and I am let’s say Jewish, does it mean I can’t get Tay-Sachs testing or an amniocentesis? This is where the discussion needs to be focused. Not on political razzle dazzle.

This mandate is an important issue and it deserves good journalism. It is not getting it. Pour some more hot water into the tea kettle. It’s going to be a long afternoon. 

About Tom Godfrey

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