Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), a Tea Party Republican who says abortion should be illegal even in cases where the mother's life is in danger, campaigned as a pro-abortion rights candidate in his 1996 Congressional race, the Windy City Times reports.
A gay newspaper called Outlines that has since merged with the Windy City Times reported in 1996 that in addition to supporting gay rights, Walsh said he "supports abortion rights in the first trimester." Walsh now opposes abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest or life of the mother.
"With modern technology and science, you can't find one instance" in which a woman would actually die without an abortion, Walsh told Illinois radio station WGN last week. "There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing," he continued.
Walsh is wrong. There could be several medical reasons for a woman to need to terminate her pregnancy in order to protect her life or health, including cancer and ectopic pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancies, or pregnancies that occur outside the uterus, are a life-threatening condition that occurs in one in every 40 to one in every 100 pregnancies, according to the National Institutes of Health. The developing fetus must be removed in those cases in order to save the mother.
After Walsh's Democratic opponent, Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, criticized him for his comments on abortion, Walsh organized a press conference on Friday with pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion women in his community to accuse Duckworth of casting women as single-issue voters. "Despite Ms. Duckworth's attempt to make abortion the one and only issue of this election, most women and men, regardless of their position on abortion, are more concerned with jobs, the economy, and the well being of their families," his campaign wrote in a press release announcing the event.
Duckworth responded that it is Walsh and his Republican colleagues, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who have made abortion an issue in this election. "Congressman Walsh has brought up the issue of abortion by making completely false and dangerous remarks about women's healthcare," Duckworth told The Huffington Post in an email on Friday. "People in this district are appalled, absolutely appalled, that the rights women have earned are now going to be eroded by the likes of Congressman Walsh, Todd Akin and Rich Mourdock."
Related on HuffPost:
Obama 'really isn't smart enough' to know what a tyrant is
At a June 16 town hall event in Elmhurst, Ill., Walsh <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/20/joe-walsh-obama-immigration-policy-change_n_1612997.html" target="_hplink">called</a> President Barack Obama a "tyrant" for announcing an immigration policy change that allows some young undocumented immigrants to stay in the country. Walsh then corrected himself, saying Obama "really isn't smart enough to know what that means."
Democrats want 'African-Americans dependent on government'
Walsh <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/30/joe-walsh-hispanics-african-americans_n_1557480.html" target="_hplink">accused</a> minority groups of being dependent on the federal government during a late April speech in Schaumburg, Ill. Walsh told constituents that Democrats "want Hispanics to be dependent on government just like they got African-Americans dependent on government. That's their game."
On Democratic opponent's military service
In a March interview with Politico's Dave Catanese, Walsh <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/74625.html" target="_hplink">brushed off</a> Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth's military service. "I have so much respect for what she did in the fact that she sacrificed her body for this country," Walsh said of the double-amputee veteran of the Iraq War. "Ehhh. Now let's move on."
Obama elected because he 'was black, he was historic'
In a May 2011 interview with Slate's Dave Weigel, Walsh <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2011/05/what_did_he_just_say.2.html" target="_hplink">said</a> President Barack Obama was elected because of his race. "Why was he elected? Again, it comes back to who he was. He was black, he was historic," Walsh told Weigel.
'I don't care about the loss of public sector jobs'
When a constituent asked Walsh he supported saving post office jobs, he <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/special/2011/11/10/365890/walsh-insults-post-office-worker/" target="_hplink">shot back</a>, "I don't care about the loss of public sector jobs," according to the constituent's account. His remarks came at the end of a heated town hall event in Gurnee, Ill., where Walsh <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/11/08/364180/joe-walsh-melts-down-bank-lobby/" target="_hplink">interrupted</a> constituents discussing bank lobbyists in Congress. "Don't blame banks, and don't blame the marketplace for the mess we're in right now!" Walsh shouted at attendees. "I am tired of hearing that crap! This pisses me off!"
'The country voted for' Obama because of his race
Walsh <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/04/30/473743/joe-walsh-obama-black/" target="_hplink">rehashed</a> his previous claims that Barack Obama was elected president because of his race during an April town hall event in Illinois. "He's our first African-American president," Walsh told constituents. "The country voted for him because of that."
Double-amputee Democratic opponent not a 'true hero'
Walsh <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/joe-walsh-tammy-duckworth_n_1646793.html" target="_hplink">criticized</a> Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth -- a double-amputee veteran of the Iraq War -- for making her military service central to her campaign and thus not being a "true hero." "Now I'm running against a woman who, my God, that's all she talks about," Walsh told constituents at a town hall event in Elk Grove, Ill., on Sunday. "Our true heroes, it's the last thing in the world they talk about."