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Fake news: A look at what didn’t happen this week

Amanda Seitz and Beatrice Dupuy
Associated Press

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out. Here are the real facts:

In this Feb. 7, 2018 file photo, a nurse prepares a flu shot at the Salvation Army in Atlanta.

Claim: Health care law does not mandate that nurses give vaccines.

The Facts: Mandatory flu or pneumococcal vaccinations are not a requirement under the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in 2010, as a post circulating on Facebook suggests. The Affordable Care Act, commonly called “Obamacare,” requires insurance providers to cover the full cost of preventive vaccines but the legislation does not require hospital staff to administer those shots to unvaccinated patients. Information in the Facebook post, which is attributed to a nurse whistle-blower, wrongly suggests nurses must give the flu or pneumococcal vaccination to patients who have not had them, even without their consent. “If (nurses) were giving vaccines without consent, that would be assault and we don’t do that,” John Cullen, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a doctor in Alaska, told The Associated Press.

Claim: A woman who is raped and seeks an abortion in Texas could be put to death.

The facts: Women cannot be put to death in Texas for seeking an abortion as a post circulating online this week suggests, although one lawmaker has proposed legislation that would criminalize the procedure. The inaccurate claim sets up a hypothetical situation: “A woman is raped and impregnated by her rapist. She seeks an abortion to end her unwanted pregnancy. Her government puts her to death, but not her rapist. Sharia law in some Islamic country? Nope. Texas.” It began appearing on Facebook this month after a bill that would have made abortion a capital offense failed to move forward in the Texas legislature. Women can still legally undergo an abortion in Texas up until 20 weeks of pregnancy. After that point, abortions are banned except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk or the fetus has a severe medical abnormality. “The way the law stands currently in Texas there are no criminal penalties for women who have abortions,” said Drucilla Tigner, a reproductive rights strategist for the ACLU of Texas.

Claim: Photo shows military moms hosted by Melania Trump on Mother’s Day.

The Facts: The photo, which circulated on Facebook on Mother’s Day, May 12, was falsely captioned. Melania Trump did not host such an event on that day. The photo was taken during a Joint Armed Forces Officers’ Wives’ Luncheon in April 2018. It shows Ivanka Trump – not Melania Trump – who was the guest speaker at the event, seated among members of the Air Force Officers’ Spouses’ Club of Washington, D.C., one of the groups that attended the luncheon. That group posted the photo on Twitter in April 2018. Facebook users shared it this past Mother’s Day and falsely said it was taken ‘today.’

In this Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017 file photo, Pastor Joel Osteen gives an interview at his Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.

Claim: A Facebook post shows Joel Osteen Ministries refusing to accept a prayer request submitted on the social media platform unless the person pays a $24.99 monthly donation.

The Facts: The image circulating on Facebook that appears to show the popular televangelist demanding a donation in exchange for a prayer is a hoax, a spokesman for Osteen’s Houston-based Lakewood Church told the AP. The manipulated image shows a screenshot of a Facebook account made to look like that of Joel Osteen Ministries seeking donations from a woman who requested a marital prayer. It is not from Osteen’s account. Anyone can submit a prayer request in person, by phone or on the church’s website, free of charge, a church official said. Millions of viewers tune in weekly to his televised sermons. “Joel Osteen Ministries never requests money for prayer,” Donald Illoff, a spokesman for the church, said in an email to The Associated Press.