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The GOP Debate, Part II: Of Course DeSantis Was Full of Sh**

Sticking with the debate, in our initial write-up, we were extremely skeptical of the story told by Ron DeSantis about an alleged "abortion survivor" named Penny. Here was our comment on that subject:

Another common kind of politician lie is the "personal anecdote." Anecdotes seem like proof of concept, and they can be very difficult to either confirm or disprove. That's not to say that all personal anecdotes are false or misleading, mind you, but they have to be taken with multiple spoonfuls of salt when they come from a politician. The one that, in particular, did not pass the smell test for us last night came from DeSantis. He claimed that he met a woman named Penny who, as an infant, survived "several" unsuccessful abortions, and even then only because her grandmother recovered her from a biohazard waste bin and took her to a hospital to be resuscitated. Maybe it's true, but it's very hard to swallow, and we can find no trace of this person, despite the fact that she should be all over the place, courtesy of the anti-abortion crowd.

It did not help that DeSantis has already shown himself to be an inveterate bender of the truth.

Not long thereafter, we got a message from reader J.M. in Portland, ME, who confirmed what we presumed to be true, namely that it's not plausible to survive an abortion, much less several:

As a surgical medical professional, I am always amused and/or angered at Republican abortion lies. As a person who is a career surgical nurse, I can assure you that there is no such thing as an unsuccessful abortion. And I can assure you that no person survived an abortion, mostly because abortions are performed before the fetus is viable. There is no chance that a fully formed, functional being "survives." If "Penny" exists, which I doubt, she was not aborted. She was born and abandoned.

Thanks for sharing the benefit of your experience, J.M.!

As it turns out, however, "Penny" apparently does exist. Reader M.D.K. in Portland, OR, gave us the heads up that The Miami Herald quickly got on the story, and managed to get to the bottom of the matter. The name of the person in question is Miriam "Penny" Hopper, and she was born in 1955. That year tells you nearly everything you need to know, since Roe v. Wade was decided close to two decades later, in 1973. And so, Hopper was not the victim of an abortion conducted by a professional, one with the proper training, and one constrained by the ethical standards of their profession. No, her father attempted and failed to abort her using a coat hanger. And that means that while she actually was rescued by her grandmother, it was from a private residence, and not from a discard pan in a hospital or clinic.

In short, DeSantis mangled, presumably deliberately, nearly every detail of the story. There was a Penny and there was an abortion, but everything else was different from what he said (or implied). More importantly, the true story arguably makes the opposite point of the one the Governor presumed to make. Instead of illustrating the evils of legalized abortion, it shows what happens when abortions undertaken by medical professionals are not easily available.

There is absolutely no surprise here whatsoever that DeSantis reality and actual reality are so far apart from each other. Is he traveling down the Trump road, and losing the ability to distinguish (or care about) the difference between truth and lies? Or is he perfectly cognizant of the falsehoods he's spinning, and operating under the assumption that he'll be able to sell his B.S. without anybody calling him on it? We would guess it's the latter, but we really don't know. (Z)

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