A Florida woman, whose story Ron DeSantis used in the Republican primary debate to underscore his anti-abortion stance, has shrugged off speculation that the Florida governor made up her story, declaring, “My response to that would be the fact that I existed.”
DeSantis said during the Aug. 23 debate in Milwaukee that his pro-life views were shaped in part by encountering “Penny,” whose parents were trying to have an abortion.
Many considered the anecdote apocryphal, but the woman was quickly identified as anti-abortion activist Miriam “Penny” Hopper.
Hopper’s remarkable story has not been verified, but for years she has told how her grandmother saved her from a botched abortion in 1955.
“I know a lady in Florida named Penny,” DeSantis said. “She survived multiple abortion attempts.” She was dumped in a pan. Luckily her grandmother saved her and took her to another hospital.’
Hopper retold her story on Thursday Fox News Digitaland said it was “exciting” to learn that DeSantis had mentioned her in front of an audience of 11 million people.
“You know you’ve known your story your entire life, but you’re not the only one out there with a story that has stories to tell,” she said.
“That touched me very much.”
Miriam “Penny” Hopper said Thursday that she was “excited” and “humiliated” to be mentioned by Ron DeSantis during the Aug. 23 debate
DeSantis will be seen on August 23 narrating the story of “Penny” to the audience.
ICYMI: Ron DeSantis caused outrage last night when he highlighted the story of abortion survivor Miriam “Penny” Hopper.
“She survived multiple abortion attempts. She was left in a pan…her grandmother rescued her and took her to another hospital.”pic.twitter.com/YpBUlzU05i
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) August 24, 2023
Hopper said she hopes to use the new spotlight on her story to campaign against abortion.
“I have friends who have decided not to have an abortion and having this child has been a blessing in their lives,” she told Fox.
“Even my father didn’t want me.” Not only did my home abortion fail, but when I was transported to the Lakeland area, he went and tried to remove me, thinking I would be a burden.
“I knew as a kid that my dad didn’t want me as a baby because he always told me, ‘I didn’t want you.’ But I love you now.”
Hopper told the website that as her father lay dying, “he looked at me and said, ‘Honey, I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
She added, “So all the pain, the rejection, and learning my story made it all worth it.”
“Both of my parents loved me and I love them very much.”
“And I have a brother who is my best friend. And we have a very close-knit family. So forgiveness is a wonderful force in life.”
As DeSantis narrated the story onstage, critics seized on it, accusing the 44-year-old contestant of lying.
Steve Schmidt, one of the founders of The Lincoln Project, wrote on X: “The story of Penny finding DeSantis in the pan is ridiculous and patently untrue. The media should take a look at it.”
Jill Filipovic, a journalist and author, said, “I understand that politicians lie, but DeSantis’ story about ‘Penny,’ a woman he says survived multiple abortion attempts and was born to her grandmother (???? ) rescued from a pan, it is.” “It’s just such a bizarre and impossible story. It is amazing that a person could be so gullible.”
James Gibney, a journalist at Bloomberg Opinion, added, “Which reporter is going to go find Penny?” “DeSantis is rambling on about a direct question about abortion.”
Hopper appeared in a 2020 Pro-Life campaign video sharing her story, explaining that the story was based on what her family told her.
There appear to be no documents to confirm this, and those involved – her mother, aunt, father and grandmother – have died.
DeSantis speaks during the Fox News-moderated debate Wednesday night
Hopper said that Her mother, 23 weeks pregnant, sought medical attention at a central Florida clinic in 1955 for bleeding and other complications. Abortion was illegal at the time.
The doctor who examined her said he couldn’t hear a heartbeat.
He induced labor and Hopper said her parents were told: “You don’t want that baby to live – if it lives, it’s going to be a burden to you for the rest of your life.”
Hopper said the doctor told a nurse to dispose of the baby “dead or alive,” and she, a 1-pound, 11-ounce newborn, was taken away by a nurse “Put 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 and then took her to the hospital.
Medical experts told the New York Times that a baby born at 23 weeks in 1955 had very little chance of surviving.
In April, DeSantis signed a new bill banning six-week abortions — a measure progressives took against him during his presidential bid
Almost 60 now Percent of infants born at 23 weeks survive when given state-of-the-art care in a neonatal intensive care unit.
DeSantis’ team told the newspaper that he met Hopper and that her story had a profound impact on him.
In April, Florida’s governor signed a new bill into law banning six-week abortions – a measure progressives took against him during his presidential bid.
The six-week ban has sparked controversy in states that have imposed it nationwide because it’s often too early for a woman to tell if she’s pregnant.