Saturday, June 25, 2022

PolitiFact: How can we rig this abortion fact check to help President Biden?

Day by day, it's amazing to watch the kind of material PolitiFact publishes as supposedly "not biased" fact-checking.

From yesterday, June 24, we have this (red X added):

In what respect was President Biden claiming the United States counts as an outlier among "developed nations"? Here's how PolitiFact presented the president's statement:
"With this decision, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court shows how extreme it is, how far removed they are from the majority of this country," Biden said a couple hours after the ruling was released on June 24. "They have made the United States an outlier among developed nations in the world."

How far removed is the Supreme Court from the majority in this country? If we start with the amount of legal education, the gulf between does seem obvious. But Biden surely meant the Court's attitude toward abortion, even though the Court was faced with ruling on what U.S. law says about abortion, and not how to transform popular American attitudes into national law.

And how had the Court "made the United States an  outlier among developed nations of the world"? PolitiFact has published items showing it at least understands that abortion law varies widely among comparably developed nations. If it's "Half True" that "'39 out of 42 (countries) in Europe have more restrictive abortion laws' than Mississippi" then how is PolitiFact supposed to pull Biden's fat out of the fire on this one?

PolitiFact called in the Spin Team (our term!) of Madison Czopek and Tom Kertscher. The team developed a PolitiFantastic interpretation of Biden's claim:

While the high court’s decision leaves in place state laws that permit abortion, it removes the national right to an abortion — something that is widely guaranteed by laws or court rulings in other developed nations.

So ... President Biden was just saying that Court made the United States, home of the 10th amendment, an outlier on the basis of  its newfound lack of an explicit or de facto national abortion access law?

But what other developed nations have something like the 10th amendment in their constitutions? If they lack such a thing then isn't this a pointless exercise? The U.S. is an outlier because of the structure of its federalist system, not simply because of the Court.

Damn those torpedoes! PolitiFact's going full speed ahead!

Would you believe ...

... no mention of 'federalism'?

PolitiFact came oh-so-close to unraveling the mystery of the missing federal law setting abortion policy nationally in the United States:

The high court ruled 6-3 to uphold a restrictive Mississippi law and 5-4 to reverse Roe, with the majority opinion saying "the Constitution makes no express reference to a right to obtain an abortion." The decision ended nearly 50 years of federally protected access to abortion and returned power to individual states to set their own laws.

That means access to abortion varies widely in the U.S.

 Correct, PolitiFact. It's almost like the European Union that way.

In the EU, Malta is the only country where abortion is still completely prohibited. But Poland has a near-total ban in place, and many EU states have a range of legal barriers to abortion, such as mandatory counselling, waiting periods between a request and the abortion, third party consent, low upper time limits and limited legal grounds that force many women to travel to other countries, and all the increased restrictions on travel due to Covid-19, especially where access to abortion pills and self-managed abortion have not been made available.

 It's going to be really something when these fact checkers discover the concept of federalism.

... 'developed nations' don't need to be restricted to just the G7?

PolitiFact cleverly removed Malta and Poland from the "developed nations" list by restricting that list to the G7:

Developed nations consisting of the world’s leading economies are sometimes referred to as the G7, or the Group of Seven, which includes the U.S. and six other industrialized nations. Unlike the U.S., those six have national laws or court decisions that allow access to abortion, with various restrictions.

Would you believe PolitiFact has no consistent history of confining "developed nations" to the G7?

... 'Great Britain' as a G7 nation?

Would you believe Great Britain isn't listed as a G7 nation even though PolitiFact includes "Great Britain" on its list?

Would you believe that Great Britain isn't the same thing as the United Kingdom with respect to abortion law?

Great Britain technically refers to the main British island, made up of England, Scotland and Wales. "Great Britain" is sometimes used as a synonym for the United Kingdom, but if PolitiFact meant it that way then it should have pointed out that the U.K. only passed a law later resulting in liberalized abortion law in Northern Ireland in 2019.

"U.K." literally means "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland."

So the United Kingdom was the G7 outlier until 2019. The G7 went with no outlier for a couple of years before the SCOTUS struck down the Roe v. Wade precedent.

Why did PolitiFact miss all this stuff?

Probably because PolitiFact is biased. Very probably.

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