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A fact-challenged newspaper ad attacking President Barack Obama addresses some standard wedge issues: same-sex marriage, illegal immigration, Islamic law.
Then there’s this claim: "Barack Hussein Obama will move America to force doctors to assist homosexuals in buying surrogate babies."
It’s one of those statements that’s so far outside reality, our experts wondered where to start.
William Murray, chairman of the political action committee that says it placed the ad in 19 papers in three states, said it predicted "what we believe Obama will do in a second term."
But even predictions require some connection to the way the world works.
This fails that test.
‘Outrageous,’ ‘imaginary,’ ‘fevered dream’
Volunteers for Murray’s Government Is Not God PAC put together support for the ad’s claims, which they sent to us. The evidence? That Obama supports adoption by same-sex couples and extended benefits to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees.
But that didn't come close to proving the claim. The links don’t address: a) doctors b) surrogacy c) buying babies.
Nor do they address whether Obama would be interested in such an action. And a group that lobbies for equal treatment of gays and lesbians hasn’t seen any such evidence.
"We cannot find any remotely related action or statement by the president or his administration that would lead anyone to such an outrageous conclusion," said Brian Moulton, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign.
Experts in surrogacy from a medical perspective had a similar reaction.
"We have no idea what this claim is based on," said Eleanor Nicoll, public affairs manager for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
But even if Obama were interested, he would find a nearly impossible task (short of, say, suspending the rule of law).
Whether surrogacy is legal is a matter of state law, not federal. In the District of Columbia, for example, attorneys could serve jail time for helping write a contract between prospective parents and a woman who wants to carry their child. In other states, surrogacy varies from perfectly legal to functionally impossible, according to a summary of state regulation from Maryland law firm Creative Family Connections.
Michael Tanner, an expert in health care policy at the libertarian Cato Institute, pointed out that even if the Obama administration managed to require non-discriminatory coverage for artificial reproductive technology in its health care law, doctors don’t have to accept insurance, and they don’t have to perform procedures.
"They can't supersede the surrogacy laws. They can't force physicians," he said. "... That has got to be the most bizarre claim I have ever seen in my life."
He called it "a fevered dream."
Jonathan Rauch, author of Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, and a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution told us, "Even a sane version of this claim is imaginary."
A newspaper ad claimed that "Barack Hussein Obama will … force doctors to assist homosexuals in buying surrogate babies." There’s no evidence Obama is interested in such a requirement. But even if he were, surrogacy laws vary by state and there’s no mechanism to force doctors to perform a procedure. Experts found this claim "outrageous," "imaginary," and a "fevered dream." We find it Pants on Fire.
GINGPAC.org, "Barack Hussein Obama will move America to …" September 2012
PolitiFact, "PAC's newspaper ad filled with falsehoods," Sept. 26, 2012
Email interview with William J. Murray, chairman, GINGPAC, Sept. 26, 2012
Current TV, "Obama says 'yes' to gay adoption," Aug. 7, 2008
On Top Magazine, "Barack Obama Backs Gay Adoption In Proclamation," Nov. 2, 2011
White House, "Presidential Memorandum-Extension of Benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners of Federal Employees," June 2, 2010
About.com, "Barack Obama on Gay and Lesbian Issues," accessed Sept. 26, 2012
Creative Family Connections, "Surrogacy Across America," Fall 2011
Email interview with Brian Moulton, legal director, Human Rights Campaign, Sept. 26, 2012
Email interview with Eleanor Nicoll, public affairs manager, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Sept. 26, 2012
Interview with Michael Tanner, senior fellow, Cato Institute, Sept. 27, 2012
Email interview with Jonathan Rauch, author of Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, guest scholar, governance studies, Brookings Institution, Sept. 25, 2012
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