Fact check: Republican North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer supports some exceptions to abortion bans
The claim: Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer said there should be no exceptions to abortion bans, that "fetus is worth losing the mother's life"
In the flood of debate on social media that followed the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion suggesting the high court will overturn Roe v. Wade, one unverified, unsourced claim about the supposed position of a Republican senator prompted widespread outrage.
"NEW: Republican U.S. Senator from North Dakota Kevin Cramer says the fetus is worth losing the mother's life, says there's no exceptions," reads a May 5 tweet from Chris Evans (@notcapnamerica) that was later deleted.
Evans' tweet, which seemed to be the origin of the claim, was retweeted more than 11,000 times and reshared on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter by numerous political accounts and figures, including Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz.
"These fake righteous are just as keen to let children die in poverty, hungry, with no medical care," reads an Instagram post from liberal activist page That's Not Right that includes a screenshot of the tweet. "This is singularly about controlling women's place in society, and punishing them for any sexuality outside their extreme evangelical concept."
The post has accrued more than 3,700 likes since May 5.
But the spread of the claim is yet another example of how outrage and other strong emotions can go hand-in-hand with misinformation: USA TODAY found no evidence that Cramer, who opposes abortion but has expressed support for some exceptions to a total ban on the procedure, made the statement circulating on Twitter.
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USA TODAY reached out to several users who shared the claim for comment. Gallego deleted the tweet after learning it was inaccurate, his spokesperson, Jacques Petit, wrote in an email to USA TODAY.
Cramer supports some exceptions, never made statement claimed in post
Neither USA TODAY nor other fact-checking outlets found evidence that Cramer has made a statement resembling the one in the post, and no evidence has emerged to support the claim.
The senator's spokesperson, Molly Block, called the claim "false information" and noted its origin was "a random tweet from a non-news source with absolutely zero attribution," in an email to USA TODAY.
Cramer, who has served in Congress since 2013, has consistently voted for and supported restrictions on abortion. He earned an A+ for this record from the Susan B. Anthony List, which rates politicians based on their opposition to abortion.
However, he supports exceptions to abortion bans in cases of mortal danger to the mother, according to his recent record and public statements. Cramer reinforced this position in a podcast released May 6.
"If you’re pro-life, you’re going to be pro-the-mom’s-life, as well as the unborn child’s life," Cramer said in an episode of Plain Talk with Rob Port. "Saving the mother’s life is a very obvious exemption.”
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Cramer's recent record lines up with these statements.
In 2021, he co-sponsored the Protecting Life and Taxpayers Act, which bans the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases of mortal danger to the mother, rape or incest. He also co-signed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Mississippi's ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which makes an exception for cases in which the mother's physician certifies she would be in mortal danger without an abortion.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Cramer said there should be no exceptions to abortion bans and that a "fetus is worth losing the mother's life." Cramer's spokesperson said he made no such statement, and USA TODAY found no evidence that Cramer has said anything to that effect. Cramer has said he supports exceptions in cases of mortal danger to the mother and co-sponsored legislation in 2021 that also had exceptions for rape and incest.
Our fact-check sources:
Congress.Gov, accessed May 10, S.2270 - Protecting Life and Taxpayers Act of 2021
Check Your Fact, May 9, Fact Check: Did North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer Say Saving A Fetus Is Worth Losing The Mother’s Life?
InForum, May 6, Plain Talk: Sen. Cramer talks Roe v. Wade, Jan. 6, food shortages, and Ukraine
Sen. Kevin Cramer Press Release, Feb. 22, Press release: Sen. Cramer Votes Against Abortion On Demand Until Birth Act
Sen. Kevin Cramer, July 30, 2021, Press release: Sen. Cramer Joins Over 200 Members of Congress to File Amicus Brief Urging Supreme Court to Uphold Mississippi Pro-Life Law
Molly Block, May 10, Email statement to USA TODAY
Sen. Kevin Cramer, Jan. 19, Tweet
USA TODAY, May 3, Supreme Court verifies authenticity of leaked opinion in abortion case but says decision not final
USA TODAY, Dec. 1, 2021, Supreme Court signals support for Mississippi 15-week abortion ban with Roe v. Wade in balance
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Viral post misattributes view to Sen. Kevin Cramer