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- Nickel wants to codify the rights established by the landmark Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey rulings, which would allow states to restrict abortions up until fetal viability.
- The Hines campaign cited Nickel’s opposition to the state-level “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” in 2019.
- Nickel opposed that bill partly because existing laws already made it a crime to kill a newborn baby, regardless of the circumstance.
North Carolina Republican congressional candidate Bo Hines is accusing his opponent of supporting "abortion all the way up until the point of birth, even post-birth."
Hines, a political newcomer who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, faces Democratic state Sen. Wiley Nickel in what’s expected to be the most competitive congressional race in the state.
WRAL-TV, a PolitiFact partner, recently interviewed the candidates as part of its "On the Record" television show and asked each candidate about his position on abortion.
Hines said he opposes abortion unless a woman’s life is at risk or if the mother is a young victim of rape or incest. For older sexual assault victims, Hines said the legality of abortion should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
"My position is much less radical than my opponent’s position, which is really abortion all the way up until the point of birth, even post-birth," Hines said.
But is Hines’ characterization of Nickel’s abortion stance accurate? No.
Nickel said he wants to codify into federal law the rights established by the landmark Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey rulings, and earlier this year sponsored a bill in the state Senate to do just that. The bill would allow the state to restrict abortions up until fetal viability, which typically happens around 23 or 24 weeks into a pregnancy. It would allow later abortions only in cases when the procedure is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.
Late-term abortions are rare. Procedures conducted after 21 weeks of pregnancy accounted for 1% of all abortions in 2019, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of those occur because the fetus is no longer viable or the mother’s health is threatened, experts have told PolitiFact.
There is no evidence Nickel supports what Hines described as "post-birth" abortion. Killing an infant after birth is illegal, and people on both sides of the abortion debate agree that this act should be illegal. Nickel is no exception.
To support Hines’ claim that Nickel supports "post-birth" abortion, his campaign cited Nickel’s vote on North Carolina Senate Bill 349 in 2019. The bill was known as the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and would’ve amended the state’s existing murder statute to specifically address a situation where care is withheld from a child who was born alive during an attempted abortion.
The bill featured new punishments for physicians and nurses who didn’t comply with the law, or who failed to report noncompliance. They could’ve faced felony charges, prison time and up to $250,000 in fines.
The Republican-controlled legislature passed the bill, but it never became law because Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed it.
Nickel said he opposed the bill at the time because existing laws already made it a crime to kill a newborn baby, regardless of the circumstance. In an April 2019 tweet, Nickel said the bill would "demonize and criminalize" doctors and nurses.
PolitiFact North Carolina previously fact-checked multiple claims about the proposed "born alive" bill.
If a baby does survive an abortion attempt and is alive outside its mother’s womb, legal experts say it’s entitled to the same legal protections as an infant born in any other circumstance. "If you have a baby born alive, it doesn’t matter if it was born from a failed abortion or otherwise … it’s entitled to full constitutional protections," Neil Siegel, a lawyer and professor at Duke Law School, said at the time.
A spokesman for Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger also acknowledged in 2019 that, "In theory, a medical professional could be charged with manslaughter for withholding care."
"We would not be permitted, under current law, to neglect a baby that was born and needed care," Jonas Swartz, a physician and assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine, told PolitiFact NC in an email. "To do so would also not be consistent with principles of medical ethics."
Nickel campaign manager Abby May disputed Hines’ characterization.
"To be clear, Wiley does not support abortion up until the moment of birth," May said. "He thinks women and doctors should make these decisions, not the 27-year-old former football player who thinks that he has the right to tell women what to do with their bodies."
Hines, 27, played collegiate football at North Carolina State and Yale.
Apart from citing the "born alive" bill, Hines’ campaign didn’t elaborate on Hines’ claim about Nickel or the Nickel campaign’s response.
When pressed about his "post-birth abortion" comment during the show, Hines said: "Wiley is endorsed by the progressive caucus, he sought that endorsement. And, you know, if there’s an abortion procedure that happens when the baby comes out and is still alive, many in that caucus have said they would support allowing the baby to suffocate on the table."
The Progressive Caucus, part of the North Carolina Democratic Party, did endorse Nickel. But Ryan Jenkins, the caucus president, told PolitiFact NC the caucus has never supported abortion after birth. "Further, if anyone was in favor of that, I would tell them to get out of the caucus immediately," Jenkins said.
Dan Blue is the Senate minority leader for the Democrats. Leslie Edwards, Blue’s communications director, also said she’s not aware of any time a member has supported abortion after birth.
Hines said Nickel supports abortion "all the way up until the point of birth, even post-birth."
This claim ignores Nickel’s stated goal of codifying Roe, which would grant the right to an abortion up to the point of viability. In cases in which complications arise, Nickel says he believes decisions are best left to a mother and her doctor.
Although Nickel opposed a GOP-backed bill termed the "born alive" bill, he did so on grounds that existing laws already made it a crime to kill a newborn baby, regardless of the circumstance. There is no evidence he supports "post-birth" abortion.
We rate this claim False.
Video and story, "'I'm the moderate': In NC toss-up district, congressional candidates soften positions," posted Oct. 1, 2022.
Text exchange with Rob Burgess, senior advisor to the Bo Hines for Congress campaign.
Email exchange with Abby May, campaign manager for the Wiley Nickel for Congress campaign.
Email exchange with Leslie Edwards, communications director for North Carolina Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue.
Email exchange with Jonas Swartz, a physician and assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine.
Tweet by Wiley Nickel on April 15, 2019.
North Carolina Senate Bill 888, "Codify Roe and Casey Protections," introduced May 27, 2022.
North Carolina Senate Bill 359, "Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act," introduced March 26, 2019.
Pew Research Center, "What the data says about abortion in the U.S.," posted June 24, 2022.
Email exchange with Ryan Jenkins, President of the Progressive Caucus of North Carolina.
PolitiFact, "Marco Rubio misleads on Val Demings' stance on abortion later in pregnancy," posted Sept. 16, 2022; "Do Democrats support abortion up until (and after) birth?" posted Feb. 27, 2020; "Reports of the 'born alive' abortion scenario are rare," posted May 30, 2019."Donald Trump repeats, falsely, that doctors, mothers decide to execute live babies after birth," posted April 29, 2019; "Fact-checking claims about abortion and the ‘born alive’ bill," posted April 19, 2019; "Fact check: Are abortion survivors covered by existing laws?" posted April 19, 2019; "Fact-checking Donald Trump's tweet saying Democrats 'don’t mind executing' babies after birth," posted Feb. 28, 2019.
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