i9 Fact Checker: Ad attacks Franken’s position on abortion

Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 8:15 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A new ad is critical of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Franken for his positions on abortion while criticizing his advertisement attacking Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) for his position on abortion.

Source: The Grassley Committee, Inc.

According to documents from the Federal Election Commission, The Grassley Committee, Inc. is the name for Sen. Chuck Grassley’s campaign.

Democrats have continually used abortion to portray Republicans as extreme. But, this ad attempts to characterize the Democrat’s position as extreme while claiming the Senator supports exceptions.

Claim #1: Chuck Grassley supports exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother.

Analysis: Sen. Grassley’s campaign is using a bill he supported called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act from 2018. According to the congressional research service, the bill would ban abortion at 20 weeks and give violators a fine, up to five years in prison or both. A woman, who terminated the pregnancy, couldn’t face charges.

The bill does allow abortion to occur if it is to save the patient’s life or if the pregnancy results from rape or incest. It is similar to another bill the senator supported in 2019.

Sen. Grassley has continually advocated for legislation to restrict abortion rights with exceptions to save the patient’s life or if the pregnancy results from rape or incest. He has said he believes states should make decisions on abortion laws within their borders rather than the federal government.

However, Sen. Grassley did ask the United States Supreme Court to uphold Mississippi’s law banning abortion. The law only had an exception to save the life of the patient. A Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier Article also reported Sen. Grassley supported the Burke Amendment in the 1970s that would have outlawed abortions except to save a patient’s life.

Conclusion: The Senator has repeatedly supported exceptions to bans on abortions for rape, incest and to save a patient’s life. But a couple of exceptions to that support is why this gets a ‘B’.

Claim #2: Franken is for unrestricted abortions at any stage even in the 9th month, up to the minute before childbirth

Analysis: Sen. Grassley’s campaign is referring to Mike Franken’s response to a question at a debate on Iowa PBS during the Democratic Primary. He said he believes the decision to have an abortion is the woman and her doctor.

Moderator: This question will go first to Mike Franken. As a Senator voting on a bill to guarantee abortion access nationwide, would you support limits like parental consent or perhaps defining fetal viability?

Franken: The best person to answer this is a doctor and a woman. But as a man, I would say no. I believe that this is the responsibility of the mother, of the woman and her doctor. So I don’t believe we ought to have oversight laws that respond to that. And I believe we ought to codify.

Franken has said he would vote to codify protections to abortion access in Roe v. Wade throughout the campaign trail. Those have allowed state legislatures to enact limits on abortion rights that even federal courts upheld before the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade earlier this year.

Conclusion: Mike Franken has never said he is ok with an abortion in the 9th month. The ad is taking his stance – that the decision should be up to a woman and her doctor – and taking it to the extreme, that a rogue doctor and patient would kill a fetus just before birth. It’s the same logic used an another ad to attack Sen. Grassley’s stance on abortion. We rated that a ‘C’ and this one gets one, too.

Claim #3: He supports abortions on minor children with taxpayer funding, but without parental notification or consent.

Analysis: Sen. Grassley’s campaign is also using the exchange from the Democratic Primary Debate on Iowa PBS for this claim as well. Franken did said those decisions in his opinion belong between a woman and her doctor rather than adding a parent into the equation as well.

It’s worth noting the federal privacy law, HIPPA, already entitles minors to the privacy of their health information, even from parents. The Iowa Department of Public Health noted that is so minors feel free to seek needed health care without fear of parental punishment. Iowa also is one of several states requiring parental notification for an abortion.

However, the campaign’s use of “taxpayer funded” abortions is unclear. The Hyde Amendment, which is a legislative provision usually passed in budget bills, stops the federal government from paying for abortion unless it is to save the life of the patient or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, which is a nonprofit focusing on health issues based in Washington DC, said the amendment stops women with lower incomes from terminating their pregnancy. It used a 2019 study showing about 30% of pregnant Medicaid-eligible women in Louisiana would have had an abortion rather than giving birth.

Conclusion: TV9 couldn’t find any statements or was provided any from Grassley’s campaign on the “taxpayer-funded” part of this claim. But, the other part about parental notification or consent is enough to give this a ’D’.