PolitiFact: Anti-abortion group misstates Ted Strickland's views on choice

Posted at 5:57 PM, Aug 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-12 17:57:48-04

The anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life circulated a stinging release about Democratic senate candidate (and former Ohio governor) Ted Strickland recently.

“Ted Strickland stands in lockstep with Hillary Clinton and the abortion lobby in their desire to force Americans to pay for abortion on demand, up until the moment of birth, with their taxpayer dollars,” the Aug. 2 press release reads.

Spokeswoman Katherine Franklin of Ohio Right to Life told PolitiFact Ohio that the 2016 Democratic platform inspired their media message.

On reproductive rights, the platform reads, “We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.”

Clinton’s chosen running mate, Tim Kaine, recently faced scrutiny on the subject of the Hyde amendment, which has barred federal funding for most abortions since being signed into law in 1976. In a weekend interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Kaine said that he is personally in favor of the Hyde restrictions, but would support Clinton and the party’s platform to repeal it, as Vice President.

Because Kaine was somewhat compromised on the issue, Franklin said, Ohio Right to Life wanted to tease out Strickland’s stance on the Hyde amendment. Ohio Right to Life has endorsed Strickland’s opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

Strickland, on Hyde

Congress passed the Hyde amendment three years after U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which upholds a woman’s right to abortion. Its sponsor, Rep. Henry Hyde, a Republican from Illinois, saidduring a congressional debate, “I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody from having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the (Medicaid) bill.”

By prohibiting federal funding of abortion, the Hyde restrictions primarily affect low-income women on Medicaid.  

Hyde acts as a rider on federal appropriations bills. As such, it doesn’t have to be “repealed” to be deactivated. Bills on federal spending could just cease to include it. Some states have Hyde-like restrictions on their Medicaid dollars, and would have to change their guidelines to open an avenue to fund abortions if Hyde disappeared at the federal level.

When asked his position on the Hyde amendment, Strickland’s spokeswoman Liz Margolis told the Columbus Dispatch, that he favors getting rid of the Hyde restrictions.  "Ted stands with the people of Ohio who believe that women have the right to make their own healthcare decisions, and that includes all women regardless of income,” Margolis said.

As a congressman in 2003, NARAL Pro-Choice America rated his voting recordas in line with “pro-life” legislators.  

On his website, Strickland says he believes that “a woman’s healthcare choices are between a woman and her doctor,” which is an indication that he favors abortion rights.

But does he agree with abortions “up until the moment of birth?”

Due-date abortions?

PolitiFact has heard this claim before, directed at Hillary Clinton. In a New Hampshire debate in February, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said that Clinton “believes that all abortions should be legal, even on the due date of that unborn child.”  

We rated this claim False, because abortions at the nine-month mark just don’t happen. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, told PolitiFact, “If the mother’s life was at risk, the treatment for that is delivery, and the baby survives.”

Twenty-three states prohibit abortions after “viability,” the point at which the fetus can survive outside the womb, or at about 23 weeks.The reproductive health nonprofit Guttmacher Institute reports that just 5 percent of abortions occur after 16 weeks, and 1.2 percent of abortions occur after 21 weeks.

A 2015 documentaryfollowed the practices of the four remaining doctors in the country who will perform a third-trimester abortion.


Seven states and the District of Columbia have not passed time-frame restrictions on abortions. Franklin, of Ohio Right to Life, uses these as examples of places where a woman could have an “on-demand abortion.” But it rarely happens that way, in practice.

Even prior to viability, on-demand abortions are impossible in most of the country. Twenty-eight states have legislated waiting periods for an abortion procedure, and 14 states require physician counseling that necessitates two trips to a medical facility prior to an abortion.

New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont have the fewest abortion restrictions. But “on demand” is still a stretch, even in these states. In New Hampshire and Oregon, almost 80 percent of counties have no abortion clinic. In Vermont, there is no abortion provider in 50 percent of the counties.

Taxpayer-funded abortions?

The Kaiser Family Foundation determined that 13 percent of women of reproductive age are on Medicaid, compared with the 65 percent that had private insurance, as of 2014.

Most states have created laws similar to the Hyde amendment and do not fund abortions for low-income women on Medicaid, but fifteen states have mechanisms to use state funds to cover abortions for Medicaid recipients.

By the Kaiser Family Foundation’s count, 2.7 million women live in a state where coverage of abortion services under Medicaid, ACA Marketplace plans and/or private policies is limited to cases of rape, incest, and where the mother’s life is in danger.

Were the Hyde amendment to be nixed, the number of abortions among Medicaid-eligible women would be expected to increase by approximately33,000,or an increase of 2.5 percent, according to the Guttmacher institute.

Our rating

Ohio Right to Life’s press release said, “Ted Strickland stands in lockstep with Hillary Clinton and the abortion lobby in their desire to force Americans to pay for abortion on demand, up until the moment of birth, with their taxpayer dollars.”

Strickland and Clinton share similar views on abortion. But Ohio Right to Life misrepresents their stances.

A goal of excising Hyde restrictions from appropriations bills would mean that Medicaid coverage would no longer be prohibited for abortion procedures. So technically, taxpayer funds would be available for that purpose. Repealing the Hyde amendment, by itself, would not automatically trigger federal spending on abortions.

“Up until the moment of birth” abortions are a hypothetical non-event, according to health care professionals.

We rate this claim Mostly False.


Email interview, Katherine Franklin, Director of Communications, Ohio Right to Life, Aug. 5, 2016

Interview, David Bergstein, Strickland for Senate campaign spokesman, Aug. 8, 2016

Guttmacher Institute, “Politics distorts facts on impact of abortion coverage,” Aug. 17, 2009

Democratic Convention Party Platform, Jul. 21,2016

Kaiser Family Foundation, “Coverage for Abortion Services and the ACA,” Sept. 19, 2014

PolitiFact, “Marco Rubio says Hillary Clinton supports abortion ‘even on the due date,’” Feb. 10, 2016

Guttmacher Institute, “Public funding for family planning, sterilization and abortion services, FY 1980-2010,” March 2012.

LifeNews, “Ohio’s Ted Strickland wants to force Ohio taxpayers to fund abortion,” Aug. 2, 2016, “The Abortion Issue,” April 2010

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