By Laura Echevarria
Director of Communications and Press Secretary
Editor’s note. This appeared in the November edition of National Right to Life News.
One of the most mendacious arguments made during the election cycle by Democrats was nothing short of a reckless disregard for the truth. The pro-abortion movement used a broad definition of “abortion” that included miscarriages and the treatment of miscarriages to scare viewers. Ads describing women unable to get treatment for miscarriages or other life-threatening situations ran on local stations and social media platforms as well as streaming services such as Pluto and Roku.
The fearmongering was rampant. In race after race, in state after state, millions of dollars in ads aired that were produced by dozens of pro-abortion groups including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Ads similar to this one from the DCCC that aired in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District race ran on airwaves across the country. [Jen Kiggans is the pro-life Republican]:
Woman: I need help.
Nurse: I’m sorry, thanks to politicians like Jen Kiggans who applauded the overturning of Roe, and voted to restrict your reproductive freedom…
Woman: There’s nowhere to go?
Nurse: It’s worse than that. If Kiggans’ extremist allies in Congress get their way, you are potentially a criminal – and so am I.
Woman: But let me explain my situation –
Nurse: I’m sorry. We won’t be able to help you.
Narrator: Not anymore. Not in Jen Kiggans’ Virginia.
Axios reported on October 31, less than two weeks before the election, that “In a midterm cycle dominated by attempts to paint the other side as extreme, the ads in question range from disputed to outright fabrications. But almost invariably, they focus on one of two major issues driving campaign messaging: crime and abortion.”
Axios later noted comments by Jennifer Stromer-Galley, a professor at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies:
“We’ve gone from stretching the truth to just constructing an entirely new reality,” she told Axios. “Our democracy requires the public has correct information in order to make a judgment in their best interests. We are currently and increasingly in an informational environment where they cannot do that because it’s full of deceptions.”
What many voters do not realize is that under federal law, the television stations that run candidate ads are not liable for any misstatements or fabrications made by the campaigns in those ads. This means that a television station can run a candidate’s ads—even if those ads are full of falsehoods—and make money from the ad campaign without repercussions.
Federal law requires that candidates be given equal time but if one candidate raises $4.5 million from outside groups and donors and the other candidate has only $1 million, the candidates with only $1 million will not have the means to run counterattack ads with the same frequency.
It doesn’t help that few news outlets spent time investigating the half-truths and falsehoods in these ads.
One of the few reports was a brief analysis by CNN of campaigns ads in four races. In all four races, CNN reported that the Republican candidates position on abortion was being misrepresented,
Many of the Democratic ads accurately describe their Republican targets’ strict anti-abortion positions. But some others employ slippery phrasing and the power of insinuation to promote the impression that certain Republican candidates have taken more aggressive anti-abortion stands than these candidates actually have.
Because of the scare tactics employed by pro-abortion groups immediately following Dobbs and aggressive political campaigns that built on that fearmongering, television ads created by pro-abortion campaigns created fictional scenarios based on falsehoods. Viewers were told that pro-life candidates wanted to see women arrested for having an abortion or left to die from a life-threatening infection from a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
After the election, an article in The New York Times noted that,
Soon after the [Dobbs] decision in June, Democratic Party committees invested in detailed polling, hoping to drill down on what exact messaging worked best. There was a clear conclusion: The most potent messaging for Democrats was to keep the conversation broad by casting Republicans as supporting a national ban on abortion, and avoid a discussion over the details about gestational week limits. [Underlining mine.]
Proving once again that when pro-abortion groups and their allies have to talk about what happens in an abortion, they lose. The only way they can talk about the issue is to avoid talking about abortion and the unborn baby and resort to lies and obfuscation.