During and after the first Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, fact-checkers rushed to debunk candidates' criticisms of Democratic support for unlimited abortion access. But it was the journalists who got it wrong.
"What the Democrats are trying to do on this issue is wrong, to allow abortion all the way up to the moment of birth," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during the debate. Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson made similar comments.
The fact checkers: The New York Times and FactCheck.org declared the Republicans' remarks "misleading," while Reuters said the candidates were "missing context." PolitiFact said the statements were "false," and HuffPost deemed them "misinformation." The Washington Post claimed the "common Republican talking point" is untrue because such procedures are "rare." Rolling Stone outright accused the candidates of lying.
Jen Psaki, an MSNBC host and former White House press secretary for President Joe Biden, said on X during the debate, "No one supports abortion up until birth."
The facts: The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in 2021 passed a bill, backed by Biden, to allow abortion up to birth nationwide if "continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient's life or health." Seven states and the District of Columbia already put no limits on abortion. Others, such as New York and California, guarantee abortion access throughout pregnancy if the mother's health, broadly defined, is at risk.
The Democratic Party platform reads: "Democrats oppose and will fight to overturn federal and state laws that create barriers to reproductive health and rights. We will repeal the Hyde Amendment, and protect and codify the right to reproductive freedom." The Hyde Amendment bars federal funding of most abortions.
Meanwhile, prominent Democrats across the country have often openly advocated unlimited abortion rights, or at least refused to endorse any restrictions.
— LifeNews.com (@LifeNewsHQ) August 24, 2023
In 2019, Minnesota Democrat Senator Tina Smith said providing lifesaving care to babies born after botched abortions was "inappropriate medical treatment" pic.twitter.com/VXesgAUecC
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 24, 2023
As White House press secretary, Psaki herself urged passage of the national abortion law and refused to endorse limits on abortion on behalf of Biden.
Last Congress, House Democrats passed a bill — which Biden supports — that would allow abortion on demand up until birth
House Democrats also voted against a GOP amendment to ensure any baby born alive after an attempted abortion gets proper medical care
— Chad Gilmartin (@ChadGilmartinCA) August 24, 2023
Fact-checkers getting it wrong is nothing new, and their mistakes nearly always seem to go against Republicans.
— Share the Facts (@sharethefact) July 2, 2020