This week, New York legislators passed a bill that greatly expanded abortion in the state, and Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly signed it into law. The controversial new law sent shockwaves across the country, with many people outraged, leading fact-checking website Snopes.com to weigh in. In this instance, though, while Snopes acknowledged the bill’s passage, it downplayed just how extreme New York’s new law is, attempting to paint pro-lifers as deceptive. Snopes claims that it is true that “The New York state legislature passed a law allowing abortions after 24 weeks if the mother’s health is at risk or there is an absence of fetal viability,” but false to claim that the law “allow[s] for unrestricted abortion up through the normal term of pregnancy.” But is this actually false? The truth lies in the law’s definition of the word “health.”
Note, the mother’s “life” now no longer needs to be at risk for her to get an abortion in the third trimester — only her “health.” This “health” wording comes from Roe v. Wade’s companion case, Doe v. Bolton, which was left intentionally vague, and includes things like “emotional” and “psychological” health (emphasis added):
… We agree with the District Court, 319 F. Supp., at 1058, that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the wellbeing of the patient. All these factors may relate to health. This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment. And it is room that operates for the benefit, not the disadvantage, of the pregnant woman.
And yet, in its so-called “fact-check,” Snopes admits that “pro-life critics” have stated that this health exception is too broad… yet still declares these claims to be false — and neglects to state that pro-lifers aren’t just making this up out of nowhere. We’re getting our information from current federal abortion law — which Snopes doesn’t seem to realize it admits elsewhere in the piece when critiquing and quoting a pro-life source, and when it says the NY law “bring[s] state laws in line with current federal law guaranteeing abortion rights, and to preserve access to abortion services should Roe v. Wade be overturned”:
Pro-life critics contended that the RHA would “authorize abortion up until the moment of birth” because its health exception could potentially be interpreted broadly:
Currently, late term unborn children are protected in New York State law after 24 weeks except to save a mother’s life. RHA would repeal that standard and exchange it for a “health” exception, broadly interpreted by courts to include age, economic, social and emotional factors, rather than the biological definition of “health” that normally comes to mind.
In other words, Snopes, in its desire to slam pro-lifers, made it appear that claims about the broadness of the “health” exception are spurious… yet in the same post essentially admits that we are correct.
When Snopes writes, “In fact, the new law primarily allows for abortions up to the 24th week of pregnancy without restriction, and after the 24th week under certain conditions,” those “conditions” can include even emotional factors according to current federal abortion law — anything “relevant to the wellbeing of the patient” — an allowance so broad as to be essentially meaningless.
The Daily Wire’s Amanda Prestigiacomo summed it up well on Facebook:
In addition, as former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino explains, abortion is never truly necessary to save a woman’s life.
This isn’t the first time Snopes has dropped the ball on its fact-checking; in 2017, for example, Snopes came to the defense of Planned Parenthood after Live Action’s exposé showed that the abortion corporation lied about the extent of its provision of prenatal care. That this continues to happen with Snopes raises the question of whether they’re more devoted to finding the truth, or to defending abortion.