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MSNBC’s Mitchell Cheers On Planned Parenthood, Asks Them to Take Action Over Contraception Mandate

Jeffrey Meyer's picture

As we've documented the past few years, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell is notorious for her softball interviews with abortion rights absolutists like Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood. Sadly it seems Ms. Mitchell hasn't made a new year's resolution to treat those occasions as opportunities for fair and balanced interviews rather than platforms for advancing their agenda.

On her January 2 Andrea Mitchell Reports program, Mitchell kicked off the new year with a friendly strategy session with Richards, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor's temporary stay on a contraception mandate serving as the news hook.

After allowing Ms. Richards to state her opinion on Sotomayor’s ruling, the MSNBC host then went into activism mode, asking her guest, “Is there anything that Planned Parenthood or other advocates can do for women's rights and women's rights to contraception?”

Ms. Mitchell didn’t bother asking the president of the nation’s largest abortion provider why individuals should be forced to violate their religious convictions to provide contraception. Instead, she sided with the abortion activist, encouraging her to take action “for women’s rights and women’s rights to contraception?”

Instead of bringing on a conservative to actually debate Ms. Richards, Mitchell merely quoted Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and his opposition to the contraception mandate, allowing the Planned Parenthood president to challenge the Republican without a rebuttal. Mitchell’s refusal to bring on a pro-life advocate should come as no surprise as in the past she has called Planned Parenthood a noble organization and has a history of “spewing abortion propaganda” in past interviews with Cecile Richards. 

 

See relevant transcript below.


MSNBC

ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS

JANUARY 2, 2014

1:15 p.m. Eastern

ANDREA MITCHELL: The Supreme Court's temporary injunction has reignited the controversy over one of the most contested components of the new health care law. Pitting some religious advocates, as we have been saying, against women's rights organizations. Joining me now from New York is Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Happy New Year to you, Cecile. Good to see you.

CECILE RICHARDS: Good to you see you too Andrea.

MITCHELL: Well, this was a new year's surprise from Sonia Sotomayor. What’s your reaction?

RICHARDS: Well, you know there are huge religious exemptions already in the Affordable Care Act and this birth control benefit. And I think that the court is really just looking at one very specific relatively small area which is how religiously affiliated organizations are exempt and claim their exemption. I think the bigger question, and I'm glad it was talked about earlier, is the big case before the Supreme Court this spring which is over a much different issue. Which is whether or not for-profit companies can in fact, because of the beliefs of their CEO refuse to provide birth control coverage for thousands of women in this country. So I think that it is important that we don't mix these two up because they are very, very different questions.

MITCHELL: There are certainly large Numbers of women who will be affected during the stay. Is there anything that Planned Parenthood or other advocates can do for women's rights and women's rights to contraception?

RICHARDS: Well, I think--

MITCHELL: Pending a decision or an argument.

RICHARDS: Sure. There I mean look from the beginning what Planned Parenthood has been most focused on is just making sure women's health care is covered by the Affordable Care Act. And as you know, 99% of women in this country use birth control at some point. And so for women, this is a health care issue and it’s an economic issue. We have been very focused and very focused in talking about this because, again, the Supreme Court is going to have to decide whether or not for-profit companies, big companies. Multimillion dollar companies, can decide that they want to not actually provide birth control coverage to their employees and I think for women and who are working, you know, minimum wages, hourly workers, this is a big issue. The good news is millions of women are already benefitting. We get new stories every day at planned parent hood from women saying I have no co-pay for my birth control coverage it’s allowing me to put my money towards my kids, towards rent, towards food and that's what should happen.

MITCHELL: I want to share with you, Senator Roy Blunt, his comment after the justice's stay order. He said the Obama administration's HHS mandate is an egregious and blatant violation of the religious freedom. I applaud Justice Sotomayor's move to block this onerous government overreach.

RICHARDS: This is a very specific question that Judge Sotomayor is asking the court to look at. I totally understand that. Already though, it’s important, I think Senator Blunt is really misrepresenting it. Hundreds of thousands of religious institutions are already exempt from providing birth control. Really the question that we’ve got to deal with in this country is women's health care going to be dealt with equitably and equally as all other health care. And for women birth control, it’s basic preventative care. It’s an economic issue. It’s a health care issue. It’s what has allowed women to be in the work force and raise their families.

MITCHELL: And do you think that the March case that Tom Goldstein was speaking of, which is going to be argued before the Supreme Court is that the most important part? Is that what you are saying? It’s the large group of for-profits. Obviously you don't want to get into a political argument with the Little Sisters of the Poor. That’s not a good place to be.

RICHARDS: Yeah. Look, the big question is -- can a large for-profit company like Hobby Lobby which has brought this lawsuit, the case is going to be before the supreme court because of the CEO's personal objections to birth control, can he decide to deny birth control coverage for thousands of his employees? That to me is a question of what is fair. Is it -- women -- at Hobby Lobby or other for-profit companies should be treated like all other women in America and make sure that they can get the same health care benefits across the country no matter where they work. And that's what we are standing for at Planned Parenthood.