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Snopes calls out Democratic candidate for false claim that PA bill would fine women who miscarry

Pro-life group believes her claim was a "purposeful fundraising ruse," not an "honest misunderstanding."

Updated: June 1, 2021 - 3:58pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A Democratic candidate vying to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania falsely claimed that a measure in the state house would fine women who miscarry, according to fact-checking website Snopes.

Montgomery County Commissioner Chairwoman Val Arkoosh made the claim in a tweet last week that has been retweeted more than 19,000 times. She also said state lawmakers voted to force women who miscarry to fill out a fetal death form.

"This is traumatizing for women experiencing incredible loss. Unbelievable," wrote Arkoosh, who on Sunday told her Twitter followers that she didn't meet her $100,000 fundraising goal for May.

She was apparently referring to House Bill 118, approved the same day in the Republican-controlled House Health Committee, according to the Bucks County Courier Times. Sponsor Frank Ryan said the legislation would give parents the right to provide for burial or cremation of a child "lost to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or stillbirth," and require hospitals to keep those remains separate from medical waste.

Snopes rated Arkoosh's claim "Mostly False." Pennsylvania law "does not require patients themselves to register fetal deaths, or file, obtain or pay for a fetal death certificate, and it does not fine them for having a miscarriage," and the bill wouldn't change that. 

The fact-checking site noted the Democratic candidate made the claim twice more, on Facebook and in an Instagram video. 

"Since Arkoosh is an obstetric anesthesiologist, it is difficult to believe this was an honest misunderstanding, rather than a purposeful fundraising ruse," anti-abortion group Secular Pro-Life wrote. "A brief look at the quote tweets reveals many celebrities, politicians, and media personalities spreading the deception as confirmation of their biases, rather than bothering to verify the truth of it."