Recently, the North Carolina General Assembly passed Senate Bill 359, the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.” The bill clarifies that a baby born alive after a failed late-term abortion is a legal person and entitled to the full medical services available to any other baby. It gives teeth to these requirements by instituting a reporting requirement and enacting criminal penalties for doctors that fail to provide care to infants born alive after a failed abortion.
This bill prevents neglectful infanticide of babies who survive abortions. The circumstance of someone’s birth should not determine their right to life. This bill solidifies this truth by closing a loophole in state statutes.
Protecting newborn babies should be a common ground for everyone, regardless of ideology or political party. Yet Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the bill and then, to add insult to injury, bragged about the veto in a fundraising email (see below). By labeling this bill an “attack on women’s rights,” Cooper falls back on the far-Left strategy of pitting women against their unborn – or in this case, newborn – children.
The timing of Cooper’s veto is also important to note. Cooper vetoed the bill two days after receiving it, well within his 10-day window. However, he did so on the morning of the Mueller report’s release and the Thursday before the kick-off of the Easter holiday. While Cooper clearly cannot control the holiday schedule, it did seem strategic to issue the veto at a time when the news cycle would be otherwise occupied.
However, one central question of the debate became a sticking point for certain media outlets. The top talking point against the bill from Cooper and legislative Democrats was that it was “unnecessary.” Many opponents claimed state and federal laws already provide protections for infants born under such circumstances.
During the debate, Born-Alive Act sponsor Senator Joyce Krawiec refuted the claim that the bill was unnecessary. “No, we do not have laws in place protecting babies who are born alive as the result of an abortion,” she said.
The Raleigh News & Observer picked up that statement and decided to “fact check” it. They rated her claim as “false,” despite the fact check article itself admitting that state law was unclear. The article’s legal consultant said that state laws would “likely” cover those scenarios and he “didn’t see why it wouldn’t.” This squishy justification is evidence that clarification was needed.
Legislative Democrats, on the other hand, repeatedly said that state law already covered the bill – something that was disputed by the General Assembly’s nonpartisan legal staff in writing and at committee meetings. Still, these claims were not the subject of the fact check and this evidence seems to have been ignored in the fact check of Sen. Krawiec’s claim.
To be fair, the Senator’s statement did not specify the nuances of the federal laws on the subject. However, this bill had hours of debate between its committee hearings and floor debate, and it is hard to believe that she or some other bill supporter did not address that point during the debate. Unlike a statement fact-checked from a stand-alone speech or written document, Sen. Krawiec’s claim was made within the context of the larger debate. The article makes no mention of the context of the sentence they fact checked.
Given the trust bestowed upon “fact checks” in today’s confusing media culture, such institutions have a responsibility to use their platforms fairly across the political aisle.
With the emotionally-charged rhetoric of the debate, it seems suspicious that the supposedly neutral fact check would pick Sen. Krawiec’s statement as the only one that warranted a second glance. Only by cherry-picking evidence and ignoring context could the media reach their desired conclusion. And, it “just happens” to be a conclusion that supports Gov. Cooper’s veto message.