A woman whose story Ron DeSantis used in the Republican primary debate to emphasize his anti-abortion stance has been revealed as a grandmother from Michigan.
DeSantis on Wednesday night said his pro-life views were shaped in part by meeting ‘Penny’, whose parents tried to abort her.
Many assumed the anecdote to be apocryphal, but the woman has been identified as anti-abortion activist Miriam ‘Penny’ Hopper.
Her remarkable story is impossible to verify, but for years she has been telling how she was saved by her grandmother from a botched abortion in 1955.
‘I know a lady in Florida named Penny,’ said DeSantis.
‘She survived multiple abortion attempts. She was left discarded in a pan.
‘Fortunately, her grandmother saved her and brought her to a different hospital.’
Ron DeSantis referenced a woman named ‘Penny’, who has been revealed as Miriam ‘Penny’ Hopper
DeSantis is seen on Wednesday night, telling the audience the story of ‘Penny’
Critics seized on the story, accusing DeSantis of lying.
Steve Schmidt, a founder of The Lincoln Project, wrote on X: ‘The story of Penny found in the pan by DeSantis is ludicrous, and obviously untrue. It should be looked into by the media.’
Jill Filipovic, a journalist and author, said: ‘I understand that politicians lie, but DeSantis’s story about ‘Penny,’ a woman he says survived multiple abortion attempts and was rescued from a pan by her grandmother(????), is just such a bizarre and impossible story, it’s stunning that any human is that gullible.’
James Gibney, a journalist at Bloomberg Opinion, added: ‘What reporter will go out and find Penny. DeSantis waffling on direct question on abortion.’
Kylie Cheung, writing in Jezebel, identified Hopper on Wednesday night, and on Friday The New York Times published further details.
Hopper appeared in a 2020 pro-life campaign video and told her story, explaining how the tale was based on what her family told her.
There appears to be no documentation confirming it, and those involved – her mother, aunt, father and grandmother – have died.
DeSantis is seen speaking on Wednesday night during the Fox News-hosted debate
Hopper said that her mother, 23 weeks pregnant, sought medical care at a clinic in central Florida in 1955 because of bleeding and other complications.
Abortion was illegal at the time.
The doctor who examined her said he could not hear a heartbeat.
He induced labor, and Hopper said her parents were told: ‘You do not want this baby to live — if it lives, it will be a burden on you all of your life.’
Hopper said the doctor told a nurse to discard the baby ‘dead or alive,’ and she, as a one pound 11 ounces newborn, was taken away by a nurse who ‘placed me in a bedpan on the back porch of the clinic.’
When her grandmother and aunt arrived, they found the newborn Hopper, and her grandmother called the police then took her to hospital.
Medical experts told The New York Times that a baby born at 23 weeks in 1955 stood very little chance of survival.
Now, nearly 60 percent of infants who are born at 23 weeks survive, if they receive state-of-the-art treatment in a neonatal intensive care unit.
DeSantis’s team told the paper that he had met Hopper, and her story had a deep impact on him.
Donald Trump, meanwhile, spent Friday crowing about the ‘views’ for his interview with Tucker Carlson – which rivaled Wednesday’s debate.
Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson recorded an interview which aired on Wednesday night, clashing with Fox News’s Republican primary debate
Trump shunned the official Republican debate on Fox News for a sit down with Carlson on the former Fox News host’s X show
He wrote on Truth Social: ‘The Debate on FoxNews had a hard time with the proverbial RATINGS. It was one of the lowest rated EVER, if not THE LOWEST. It showed that many of those participating are “second tier” and merely “pretenders to the throne.” Some of the answers were sooo bad, with delivery even worse. The numbers were less than half what I had in 2016, not a good way to start the fight against Crooked Joe Biden, and his Lunatic Thugs. We will not let this happen. MAGA!’
He added: ‘Wow! My interview with Tucker Carlson has turned out to be the single most watched Video and Interview in HISTORY. Such a great honor to have participated. 257,000,000 Views, and counting – more than doubling the long time reigning Champ, the Oprah Winfrey interview of Michael Jackson. THANK YOU!’
Fox announced on Thursday that almost 13 million people tuned in to the first Republican debate, which was broadcast from 9-11pm ET on Wednesday.
Carlson’s interview with Trump had, by 6pm ET Thursday, received 238 million ‘views’.
However, it is not a direct comparison. X counts a ‘view’ each time a user scrolls past the video, even without watching any of it.
Fox declared on Thursday the debate was ‘the most-watched, non-sporting event cable telecast of the year’ – but cable news executives will certainly be unsettled by the social-media numbers.