Glenn Kessler defended Democrats on abortion not once, but twice on Thursday and both times the Washington Post’s resident fact-checker got his facts wrong.
The first instance was an article entitled The GOP claim that Democrats support abortion ‘up to the moment of birth.” In the third paragraph, Kessler cited Republican arguments about Democrats voting for “Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would have restored the right to abortion enshrined in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case recently overturned by the Supreme Court. The legislation includes exceptions for the health of the mother, which Republicans describe as a loophole that puts no limit on when an abortion can take place.”
That last sentence would appear to prove Republicans correct and if the Democrats Kessler talked to for the piece say Republicans are misrepresenting their position, that is because they are trying to have it both ways.
However, that’s not how Kessler saw things, “But the GOP attacks are disingenuous at best. They imply that late-term abortions are common — and that they are routinely accepted by Democrats. The reality, according to federal and state data, is that abortions past the point of viability are extremely rare. When they do happen, they often involve painful, emotional and even moral decisions.”
If Kessler wants to argue for radical and unpopular abortion positions, he should take it the opinion page, because that isn’t a fact-check and after several paragraphs of statistics and defense of third trimester abortions, Kessler finally got back to the improperly named Women’s Health Protection Act:
The bill would prevent states from prohibiting abortion ‘after fetal viability when, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.’ [Marco Rubio spokeswoman Elizabeth] Gregory suggested that ‘health’ was an escape hatch that permitted abortion at any point. A Supreme Court case, Doe v. Bolton, decided the same day as Roe v. Wade, concluded that a medical professional may decide that ‘health’ in the context of abortion could relate to ‘all factors physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age.’
Kessler would not put the “true” label on this Republican claim despite all the evidence that it was, but when it came to defending Stacey Abrams he was more definitive.
Abrams absurdly claimed, “There is no such thing as a heartbeat at six weeks. It is a manufactured sound designed to convince people that men have the right to take control of a woman's body.”
In a tweet, Kessler defended this non-sense, “FWIW, "fetal heartbeat" is a misnomer. The ultrasound picks up electrical activity generated by an embryo. The so-called "heartbeat" sound you hear is created by the ultrasound. Not until 10 weeks can the opening and closing of cardiac valves be detected by a Doppler machine. ...”
In a follow up tweet, Kessler linked to an NPR as his evidence. In response to Kessler’s claim, conservative radiologist Pradheep Shanker tweeted, “Glenn... This is scientifically and medically incorrect. 100%. Ultrasound can't detect electrical activity. Who told you otherwise?”
Shanker added “The NPR link you cited is WRONG. I wrote extensively about it at the time. Ultrasound only detects density and motion. It cannot detect any electrical activity at all. This is a scientific fact.”
Indeed, in that 2021 thread, he cited multiple radiology sources to back up his claim and back in present day, he reasonably points out that it would be silly to assume a fetal heart beats in the same way as a fully developed adult’s, but that doesn’t make it any less of a beat.