WASHINGTON – Sen. Tina Smith on Monday clarified several social media posts about a proposed abortion ban after national fact checkers questioned some of her claims.
Legislation that would ban most abortions after the 20th week passed the House last year but fell short of the votes necessary to get through the Senate. Smith was one of several Senate Democrats who railed against the legislation on social media — and on Monday those posts earned the newly appointed senator her first "Pinocchio" from Washington Post fact-checkers.
The bill "would ban abortion after 20 weeks, with no exception to protect a woman's health and no exceptions for survivors of rape and incest," Smith posted on Twitter and Facebook on Jan. 29. Critics were quick to point out that the bill did make exceptions for rape and incest — although in both cases, women would be required to report the assault to law enforcement before seeking an exception.
While other activists made similar claims — and argued that the rape and incest exceptions were written so narrowly that many victims would be unable to qualify — Smith's background as a former executive at the Minnesota region of Planned Parenthood brought her imprecise claim under particular scrutiny.
"I want to clarify something," Smith tweeted Monday, along with a link to her original claim. "The 20-week ban contains no exception to protect a woman's health. That's a fact. The bill does include exceptions for survivors of sexual assault, but they are wholly inadequate. I should have been more precise by describing the bill that way."
Smith tweaked the wording on Facebook earlier, after Post reporters reached out to her campaign manager.
Republicans pounced on the Post piece. The National Republican Senatorial Committee blasted out a link to the article under the headline "Liar Liar."
Jennifer Brooks • 202-662-7452