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."