While the House of Representatives took up a stimulus bill to deal with the impact of the coronavirus, these outlets and personalities attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) by promoting the inaccurate allegation that she tried to include “abortion funding.” As legislation made its way through the Senate, the right-wing media narrative turned to an allegation that Democrats were holding up the bill because they wanted funding for Planned Parenthood. In reality, the disagreement was about whether the bill would include assistance for nonprofit health care providers like Planned Parenthood, but also “community health centers, rape crisis centers and disability service providers” which receive Medicaid funding.
But these facts didn’t stop right-wing media from repeating the same inaccurate talking points about Democrats being “extreme” on abortion. On Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, host Tucker Carlson asked Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) about “a major roadblock to finishing the Senate’s coronavirus bill -- Democrats want Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics to get bailout dollars. Obviously, they already receive Medicaid funding. They're not at risk of going under. Why? I mean, is this real for one thing?” Gaetz responded that it was part of “a never-ending list of these virtue signaling items that the left is trying to tuck into this bill.”
In a March 22 article, Breitbart claimed that “one of the reasons bipartisan support for a massive coronavirus stimulus package has fallen apart is, once again, because Democrats want the bill to prop up Planned Parenthood.” And the Washington Examiner’s Kaylee McGhee alleged Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were “lobbying on behalf of Planned Parenthood” and had proved “Democrats are not interested in serious negotiation” on the bill.
Right-wing media figures and abortion opponents have also launched attacks on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo after he disavowed the ludicrous and dangerous idea coming from some right-wing media outlets and Republicans that it would be better to prematurely end the practice of social distancing in order to restart the economy -- even if it means that more people will die. In a March 24 news conference, Cuomo responded to these demands, saying, “We're not going to accept a premise that human life is disposable.”
Right-wing media seized on this to fuel another round of dishonest outrage, including reviving a line of attack about Cuomo expanding abortion access in his state last year, when they falsely claimed then that he was promoting “infanticide.” Carlson retorted in his March 24 monologue: “‘Human life is not disposable’ lectures the man who just signed a law legalizing abortion until birth. All right. Take a deep breath, governor. In a moment like this, talk like that -- overstatement, hyperbole -- is not helpful.” National Review’s Alexandra DeSanctis responded to Cuomo on Twitter:
These are just the latest attacks by right-wing media and abortion opponents who continue to use their 2020 playbook to allege Democratic “extremism” on abortion. An inaccurate and harmful message that they are apparently committed to promoting even during a public health crisis.