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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman March 16, 2020

No, Pelosi wasn’t caught trying to add abortion funding into coronavirus bill

If Your Time is short

  • The U.S. House passed a measure that provides federal funds to people affected by the coronavirus. There’s no evidence Pelosi added or tried to add abortion funding to the bill.

  • The bill covers reimbursement laboratory costs for COVID-19 testing.

  • Some raised concerns that language was needed to specifically ensure abortion services weren’t eligible to receive funds. The language was amended by Democrats to limit reimbursements to COVID-19 expenses. 

The U.S. House passed a measure to help mitigate the economic toll of the coronavirus by providing financial assistance to people affected by the pandemic. The legislation passed overwhelmingly (363-40 on March 14) and provides billions of dollars so Americans can get free tests and, in some cases, receive two weeks of paid leave. 

As debate about the bill began, we noticed claims going around that said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got "caught" trying to sneak abortion funding into the package. 

This is false. There’s no evidence that Pelosi was sneaking any funding toward abortion services in the bill.

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A March 12 story by anti-abortion website "Life News" makes the claim. Its headline says: "Speaker Nancy Pelosi Caught Trying to Include Abortion Funding in Bill to Combat Coronavirus." We saw many other examples of the same basic headline.

The story was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

It cites a report by the Daily Caller, which also makes the claim and cites multiple unnamed "senior White House officials." It says:

"Speaking to the Daily Caller, those officials alleged that while negotiating the stimulus with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Pelosi tried to lobby for ‘several’ provisions that stalled bipartisan commitment to the effort. One was a mandate for up to $1 billion to reimburse laboratory claims, which White House officials say would set a precedent of health spending without protections outlined in the Hyde Amendment."

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When we reached out to Pelosi’s staff, they declined comment. 

The Hyde Amendment, which was enacted in 1997, is a budgetary rider that prohibits the federal government from covering the costs of abortions except in very rare cases. The issue was that the bill’s original draft didn’t explicitly include Hyde Amendment language that would make sure that reimbursement of laboratory claims couldn’t apply to abortion services.

The concern raised in the Daily Caller story was that the lack of language would create a loophole that abortion service providers could try to use in the future to get reimbursed with federal funds. 

That’s certainly more hypothetical than the matter-of-fact headline, "Speaker Nancy Pelosi Caught Trying to Include Abortion Funding in Bill to Combat Coronavirus."

House Democrats submitted a "manager’s amendment" on March 12 that says reimbursement funds could only be used for COVID-19 related costs.

"Claims reimbursed under this section would be limited to those for uninsured individuals not eligible for other COVID-19 testing and services assistance included in the bill," a summary of the amendment says. 

Our ruling

A website claims Pelosi was "caught trying to include abortion funding" in the bill. 

This is inaccurate. A section in the bill seeks to reimburse insurers for COVID-19 related laboratory claims. Concerns were raised that the bill’s language could inadvertently open up federal funds for abortion services, but it’s unclear exactly how. No draft of the legislation had funding for abortion in it.  

We rate this claim False.

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No, Pelosi wasn’t caught trying to add abortion funding into coronavirus bill

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