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Ad Distorts Abortion Views of Republican House Candidate from Nevada

FactCheck.org logo FactCheck.org 10/4/2022 Brea Jones
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An ad from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee falsely claims that Nevada Republican House candidate April Becker supports a nationwide abortion ban and “taking away a woman’s right to abortion with no exceptions.” 

© Provided by FactCheck.org Becker has said she supports a ban on abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. Becker also has said she opposes regulating abortion on the federal level.

Abortion became a top issue in the 2022 midterm elections following the Supreme Court’s June ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade — which established a constitutional right to abortion in 1973. 

The DCCC, the party’s official campaign committee for electing Democrats to the House, focused this ad on Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District race between Becker and Democrat Rep. Susie Lee.

The ad, which is titled “April Becker is too extreme and a threat to Nevada women,” was posted Sept. 19 on the Facebook page of AAPI Vote 2022, which is a DCCC campaign that targets Asian American and Pacific Islander voters. The post received over 13,000 views.

Related Facebook post

Shared from Facebook
 

In the ad, the narrator says, “April Becker is a threat to our rights. She doesn’t care about Nevada women. She supported overturning Roe v. Wade, taking away a woman’s right to an abortion with no expectations for rape, incest or to save her life, and would join extremist Republicans in Congress trying to ban abortion nationwide, including in Nevada. April Becker is too extreme and a threat to Nevada women.”

Several versions of the ad are active on the AAPI Vote 2022 page, according to the Facebook Ad Library.   

“April Becker has not only failed to stand up for southern Nevada’s AAPI community, she’s pushed dangerous policies and is backed by far-right, anti-choice extremists,” DCCC spokesperson Johanna Warshaw said about the claims on the DCCC website. “We will continue to call out her extremism and make the choice clear to AAPI voters this November.”

But the ad exaggerates Becker’s views on abortion.

Though Becker did support overturning Roe v. Wade, Becker’s website says she is pro-life, “with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.” 

We reached out to the DCCC for comment, but didn’t hear back.

Several DCCC press releases say that Becker is backed by the “extremist anti-abortion” groups National Right to Life and Nevada Right to Life, which want to “ban abortion without exceptions for rape or incest.

The press releases suggest that Becker wants to ban abortion without exceptions because she’s supported by these groups. But, as we already said, that’s false.

Becker Doesn’t Support Federal Abortion Ban

The ad on Facebook and other ads and press releases on the DCCC website also falsely claim that Becker supports a federal law banning abortion. 

The Facebook ad cites an article published in May by the Nevada Globe, whose founding editor is conservative commentator Megan Barth, as a source for the claim that Becker supports abortion without exceptions and supports a federal abortion ban.

In Barth’s interview with Becker in the Nevada Globe, Becker responds to a question about what was then the court’s leaked opinion on the possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade. But Becker’s response doesn’t back up the DCCC’s claims.

Becker, May 11, 2022: When they (Democrats) argue about a slippery slope with the repeal, they don’t understand the constitution or Bill of Rights. Any of those types of issues are protected under the 14th amendment. Roe V. Wade should be left to the states. I spent an entire semester studying Roe V. Wade and it was a decision made by judges who violated the separation of powers and made law. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, you should step back and understand that when judges overstep boundaries, our system doesn’t work properly. I don’t think this [is] going to have any effect on my race or anyone’s race. It would have to be changed by the people of Nevada and is a beautiful example of how our government works.

After the court ruled on Roe v. Wade, Becker said in an interview on Sept. 10 that she interprets the ruling by the Supreme Court to mean abortion laws must be left up to the states and can’t be legislated by Congress.

Becker’s campaign website says that the court ruling “makes any federal action on abortion restrictions unconstitutional,” adding that Becker would vote against any attempt to regulate abortion at the federal level.

On Sept. 13, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina introduced a bill calling for a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

But Becker also said in her Sept. 10 interview that she is not interested in a nationwide ban at 15 or 20 weeks of pregnancy, adding, “if a federal law were passed either way, it would be unconstitutional.”

Another DCCC press release about Becker said that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California released the “GOP’s plan for America” if they regained control of the House in the midterm elections and that it includes a nationwide abortion ban, calling it the “Becker-McCarthy plan.” But that’s misleading.

The press release linked to McCarthy’s plan, “Commitment to America,” which does not propose a nationwide abortion ban. It says the party would “protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers,” without specifying how that would be accomplished. During the unveiling of the House GOP agenda at an event in Pennsylvania on Sept. 23, GOP leaders didn’t provide any details about their abortion plan, as Politico reported.

The DCCC also linked to an article about McCarthy by the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund. The article said McCarthy “made a commitment to the extreme MAGA agenda” and part of that agenda is “banning abortion nationwide,” and it linked to Graham’s proposal.

CNN reported McCarthy said he would support a 15-week abortion ban, but also said “McCarthy did not commit to putting any specific pieces of anti-abortion legislation on the House floor if they recapture the majority.”

Contrary to the DCCC’s ad, we could find no evidence that Becker “would join extremist Republicans in Congress trying to ban abortion nationwide.” In fact, she explicitly has said she wouldn’t.

Congressional Power Over Abortion

Becker’s position that Congress can’t regulate abortion has drawn criticism from Democrats and anti-abortion activists, NBC News reported.

“We are firm believers that there is a federal government role here and are advocating that among Republican lawmakers and candidates,” Mallory Carroll, a spokesperson for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, told NBC News. “We are expecting for anyone who calls themselves pro-life to advocate at the federal level for protections for the unborn.”

When asked about Becker’s stance that abortion can’t be regulated by Congress, Lee, Becker’s opponent, said, “I’ve never heard of that. I don’t know if she’s in a different reality.

Congress does have the ability to pass federal legislation that would either ban abortion or allow abortion, according to constitutional law experts. 

“Yes, Congress does have the power to do either under the Commerce Clause” of the Constitution, Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard University, told us in an email.

The commerce clause of the Constitution gives Congress power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.”

In United States v. Lopez, the Supreme Court determined the commerce clause allowed Congress to regulate “activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.” The broad wording gives Congress the authority to make legislation on a wide range of topics, such as the environment and abortion, according to the Congressional Research Service.  

“Congress has historically used the Commerce Clause as authority to enact abortion-related legislation,” CRS said in a July report after the Supreme Court ruling on abortion. 

While Congress has usually used the clause to enact legislation, some question if that can continue following the court’s ruling on Roe. 

“Despite Congress’s past reliance on its commerce power to enact abortion-related legislation, some legal scholars question whether the Commerce Clause provides Congress with general authority to regulate abortion,” CRS reported. “On this view, the performance of an abortion at a local clinic does not necessarily involve or affect interstate commerce, and the availability of a contentious medical procedure is traditionally a state matter. Although the Supreme Court has not directly ruled on the issue, at least one sitting Justice has questioned whether Congress can generally regulate abortion under the Commerce Clause. However, as mentioned above, several federal courts of appeals have concluded that providing reproductive health services is commercial activity that Congress may broadly regulate under the Commerce Clause.”

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