PEJ News Coverage Index: February 15. Birth Control Mandate Makes Big News

Feb 15, 2012

The debate in Washington over requiring religious institutions to cover contraception in health plans, as originally mandated by the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act, reached something of a political climax last week. Catholic leaders, contenders for the GOP presidential nomination, and Republicans in Congress, all joined the argument denouncing the policy for infringing on religious liberties. Some went so far as to claim the White House was engaged in a war on religion.

After originally defending the mandate for promoting women’s health, the Obama Administration conceded to the pressure on February 10 and agreed to modify how the law would be implemented. Insurers would still provide contraception coverage, but religious organizations would not be involved in the costs. While the change satisfied some critics, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops decided it did not go far enough.

The story reached a new level last week, filling 8% of all the news studied by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which monitors the news agenda in a sample of 52 different news outlets.  The week before, it barely registered in the news.

Read the full report, Birth Control Mandate Makes Big News, on the Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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