Huffpost Politics

Joe Walsh Defends Opposition To Abortion In Cases Of Rape And Incest: 'There Is Still A Life There'

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Tea Party favorite Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) is still being asked about his abortion stance by constituents following a his erroneous claim that modern science eliminates the need for an exception to abortion. In answering a constituent's question in an Oct. 25 town hall, he made it clear that he is "pro-life without exception."

"The common exceptions that people who are pro-life without exception are in cases of rape and incest -- horrific, evil, terrible events," he told the constituent. "In cases like that, I am still pro-life. There is still a life there."

Yet Walsh did concede that mothers might need to terminate to pregnancy if their lives or health were at risk.

"Let me tell you what my stance is: as I said last week, there are always rare circumstances where a pregnancy needs to be terminated to save the life or health of the mother," he said. "And that's done. And that decision is up to that mother and that family."

He then minimized the issue of abortion. "It's like the country's house is burning down right now -- we're not working, our economy is about to go into another recession...and we're flat broke," he said. "Our house is burning down. But Miss Duckworth doesn't want to talk about that stuff. So she picks these other issues, like abortion, like gay rights -- all important issues, but what about the house that is burning down?"

On Oct. 18, he said that the advancements of modern science had precluded the possibility that a mother would need to terminate her pregnancy in order to save her own life.

"With modern technology and science, you can't find one instance," Walsh said. "There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing."

Medical science says otherwise. Ectopic pregnancies, in which the fetus develops outside of the uterus and must be removed to save the mother, occur anywhere from one to every 40 to one in every 100 cases, according to the National Institute of Health.

Walsh attempted to revise his assertion on Oct. 19 by releasing a statement acknowledging that such instances were incredibly rare but did threaten the lives of both the mother and the baby.

"When it comes to having an abortion to save the life of a mother, I will say again that, outside of the very rare circumstances such as ectopic pregnancies, during which both the mother and baby will die if the baby is not aborted, and other rare health issues, the research is pretty clear that with the advances in modern medicine, an invasive and traumatic procedure like an abortion is not necessary to save the life of a mother," he said. "These cases are extremely rare, and they unfortunately are used by the militant pro-choice movement to justify every single abortion."

Walsh, who won election in 2010, is struggling to hold onto his seat. Of 500 likely voters in Illinois' 8th Congressional District, 54 percent favored Democrat Tammy Duckworth, compared to 40 percent for Walsh, with a 4.4 percent margin of error. The Tea Party freshman turned heads in July when he accused Duckworth, a double-amputee Iraq War veteran, of not being a "true hero."

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