Monday, June 02, 2008

Fact Checking and Justin Bank

Justin Bank has a piece at which claims the Susan B. Anthony List is inaccurately portraying Congresswoman Heather Wilson’s votes on various issues. Unfortunately, Bank doesn’t really check the facts. He takes issue with claims made Susan B. Anthony. He claims they “run afoul with facts” by claiming:
That she "voted for cloning that would create human embryos specifically to be destroyed for scientific research." Actually, she voted to make it illegal to clone humans; the bill did not address embryos.
Actually she didn’t and either Bank doesn’t understand what cloning proponents want to do or is a cloning proponent who is willing to go along with their intentional deception (my guess is the former).

The vote at issue is Heather Wilson’s “yea” vote on the deceptively named “Human Cloning Prohibition Act”.

Bank defends Wilson by noting the description of the “Human Cloning Prohibition Act” which says:
It shall be unlawful for any person to perform or attempt to perform human cloning; or to ship, mail, transport, or receive the product of human somatic cell nuclear transfer technology knowing that such product is for the purpose of human cloning.

What Bank doesn’t do is provide the deceptive definition of human cloning in the “Human Cloning Prohibition Act.” That act defines cloning by saying:
The term ‘human cloning’ means the implantation of the product of human somatic cell nuclear transfer technology into a uterus or the functional equivalent of a uterus.
By “product of human somatic cell nuclear transfer technology,” the legislation means “cloned human embryo” since that’s what would be created by human somatic cell nuclear transfer technology since somatic cell nuclear transfer is a method of cloning. So the bill does “address embryos” by continuing to allow them to be created via human cloning but not allowing them to be implanted. So the claim that Wilson “voted for cloning that would create human embryos specifically to be destroyed for scientific research” seems to be entirely accurate. Bank seems to have fallen for the pro-cloning deception.

The other big supposed “afoul(ing) of the facts” comes when Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List claims Wilson “voted to fund abortion providers” when she voted against defunding Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider. The SBA List claim is apparently not true because Planned Parenthood does other things besides providing abortions. Bank then attacks a strawman by claiming the tax money Planned Parenthood receives doesn’t fund abortions. SBA List never claimed it did. Just because someone votes to provide an abortion provider with tax dollars for services besides abortion doesn’t mean they haven’t voted to fund an abortion provider.

If wants to have any recognition as a halfway decent claim checker, they should have claim checkers and editors who have a halfway decent understanding of the issues they're supposed to be fact checking.

HT: Scott Swenson who agreed with Bank’s report

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