Thursday, July 14, 2022

Smear Undone


On Wednesday, CBS News reported

An Ohio man has been charged with raping a 10-year-old girl whose case drew national attention following a doctor's comments that the child had to travel to Indiana for an abortion, an account that had led some prominent Republicans – including Ohio's attorney general and a congressman – to suggest it was fabricated.

Democratic President Joe Biden highlighted the case last week at the signing of an executive order aimed at protecting access to abortion as state after Republican-led state, including Ohio, enacted near-total restrictions after the U.S. Supreme Court's recent landmark ruling.

The President's reference to the case bothered many conservatives, with Fox News online attempting to discredit the account as "repeated by President Biden last week, but the widely shared story is facing increased skepticism and hasn't been verified by even left-leaning fact checkers," Shockingly, "even left-wing fact-checker Snopes could not determine if the story was true." (Of course, a fact-checker leans left because facts have a liberal bias.)

CBS News added

A detective testified Wednesday at an initial court appearance for the 27-year-old suspect that Columbus police learned about the girl's pregnancy through a referral by Franklin County Children Services that was made by her mother June 22, and that she had an abortion in Indianapolis on June 30, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The detective said DNA from the Indianapolis abortion clinic was being tested to confirm paternity.

An Indianapolis physician who provides abortion services, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, had told The Indianapolis Star that an abortion had been provided for such a child because the girl couldn't get the procedure in Ohio under a newly imposed state ban on abortions at the first detectable "fetal heartbeat." A judge lifted a stay on the ban after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

As Judd Legum details, an entire right-wing campaign was unleashed. Tucker Carlson declared the news item "not true." Further

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost appeared on another Fox News show, Jesse Watters Primetime, to attack the Indianapolis Star report. "We have regular contact with prosecutors and local police and sheriffs — not a whisper anywhere," Yost said. In a subsequent interview with USA Today, Yost said that there was "not a damn scintilla of evidence" to support the story, which he described as a likely "fabrication." Watters himself concluded that the story "fits a pretty dangerous pattern of politically timed disinformation."

 

The Ohio congressman to whom CBS referred was the famous, more deservingly infamous, Jim Jordan:

 

Conservatives understood that Americans might realize that if an abortion could be denied to a 10-year-old rape victim, every woman would be in jeopardy. Among the worst offenders was the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, which called Indianapolis Star Shari

Rudavsky's report a "fanciful tale[]" that was "too good to confirm." Ignoring Bernard's first-hand account, the editorial claimed there is "no evidence the girl exists." The piece criticizes Bernard for not providing details that could expose the identity of the 10-year-old including "where the alleged crime occurred" and "the Ohio doctor who referred the case." They suggested that Bernard perpetrated a hoax because she has "a long history of abortion activism in the media."

 Legum, again:

Yost is unrepentant. Jordan is unrepentant. No Republican will admit to error because to forced-birth advocates, no error was made.

 

A safe prediction:

 

It will not be the last. Donald Trump is the GOP hero and the only Republican with a serious chance of heading him off is the similarly cruel Florida governor, Ron DeSantis. Pro-life is not the point for party officials. Cruelty, and coercion of women- even rape victims- are on their wish list.

 

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