Politics & Policy

The Corner

PolitiFact vs. Kayla Moore

Kayla Moore accuses Doug Jones, the Democrat running against her husband, Roy Moore, for U.S. senator from Alabama, of supporting “full-term abortion.” Jon Greenberg of PolitiFact calls this claim “false” on two grounds: The phrase Mrs. Moore used was novel, and one expert told Greenberg that abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy happen “generally” in cases where fetuses have severe abnormalities that make their survival unlikely. (While we do not have solid data on the third trimester, a study of abortions after the 20th week reports that “most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.”)

Neither of these grounds justifies PolitiFact’s conclusion. With respect to Greenberg’s first point, his organization is supposed to be in the business of fact-checking, not standard-usage-checking. It’s not like anyone is having trouble getting the gist of Mrs. Moore’s comment. As for his second point, presumably she does not believe that an unborn child late in pregnancy should be aborted because the child’s prospects are poor. She is claiming that Jones supports abortion very late in pregnancy; it hardly refutes her claim to note that some people make arguments for abortion very late in pregnancy. The point is also irrelevant because Jones has not suggested that abortions should be restricted late in pregnancy to cases of severe fetal abnormality.

Jones has made two sets of comments on abortions late in pregnancy, which PolitiFact, to its limited credit, quotes. In September, he responded to a question of whether abortion should be prohibited “after 20 weeks or something like that” by saying that he was “not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right and her freedom to choose,” and that “once that baby is born” he would be an advocate for the child. The logical implication is that Jones favors legal abortion even very late in pregnancy.

Jones tried to provide a more moderate impression in subsequent remarks, saying that late-term abortions should be “permitted to protect the life or health of the mother.” (Note that he isn’t saying anything about severe fetal abnormality.) These remarks do not necessarily contradict the implication of his September comments. The Supreme Court, as the Guttmacher Institute acknowledges, has held that abortion may not be restricted at any stage of pregnancy if an abortionist deems an abortion necessary to protect a pregnant woman’s emotional health. In its clean-up remarks, the Jones campaign said the candidate supports “the current law on a woman’s freedom to choose, which has been in place for decades.” Legal abortion at any stage of pregnancy, so long as an abortionist considers it necessary for emotional health, is part of the current law that has been in place for decades.

Greenberg also writes, “At its roots, abortion law sorts out the moral rules during the time when the baby depends on the mother for survival. The idea of full-term abortion lies beyond that window of time. By definition, at full-term a baby without significant anomalies is able to survive outside the womb.” This is word salad, and it tells us nothing about either the content of Jones’s views or the accuracy of Mrs. Moore’s characterization of them.

Kayla Moore says that Jones supports abortions very late in pregnancy. The available evidence tends to confirm that claim. She may well be wrong about a great many things, but this, sadly, does not appear to be one of them.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Science & Tech

Set NASA Free

The Trump administration has proposed shifting the International Space Station from a NASA-exclusive research facility to a semi-public, semi-private one. Its plan would nix all government funding for the ISS by 2025 and award at least $150 million per year to NASA to help with the transition. This would be a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More