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Quick Fact: Hannity falsely claims former Obama nominee “sees similarities between pregnancy and slavery”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 30th, 2010 4:48 am by HL

Quick Fact: Hannity falsely claims former Obama nominee “sees similarities between pregnancy and slavery”

On his April 29 show, Sean Hannity twice falsely claimed that Dawn Johnsen, President Obama’s former nominee to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel before withdrawing her nomination, “sees similarities between pregnancy and slavery.” In fact, in the brief to which Hannity refers, Johnsen compared “forced pregnancy” to involuntary servitude.

Hannity: Johnsen “seems the similarities between pregnancy and slavery.”

During a discussion of Obama’s judicial nominees on the April 29 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, Hannity article:

The Republicans are referring to a 1989 brief in Webster vs. Reproductive Health Services, a case that tested whether states could prohibit abortions in public health institutions. Johnsen was then legal director of the National Abortion Rights Action League, one of 77 organizations to sign the brief.

Footnote 23, part of the brief that Johnsen said in a Senate hearing that she wrote, said the following: “While a woman might choose to bear children gladly and voluntarily, statutes that curtail her abortion choice are disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude, prohibited by the Thirteenth Amendment, in that forced pregnancy requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the state’s asserted interest. Indeed, the actual process of delivery demands work of the most intense and physical kind: labor of 12 or more grueling hours of contractions is not uncommon.”

So Johnsen compared “forced pregnancy” — not motherhood — to involuntary servitude.

After we asked the Republican Conference about the claim, staffer Ericka Andersen acknowledged it was wrong. “You are correct that the post was written inaccurately,” she told us in an e-mail. She corrected the post to say Johnsen “equated forced pregnancy with ‘involuntary servitude.'”

Kudos to the conference for acknowledging the error. But we still find the original claim False.

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