POLITICS
10/15/2014 06:28 pm ET Updated Oct 16, 2014

Scott Walker Dodges Questions On Abortion, Birth Control

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has made it clear in the past that he believes abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape and incest. But now that Walker is neck-and-neck in the polls against pro-choice Democrat Mary Burke, he is dodging questions on abortion and trying to change the subject.

Over the course of his career, Walker has signed several tough anti-abortion bills into law, defunded Planned Parenthood providers in the state budget, and sponsored legislation that would have allowed pharmacists to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions for moral reasons. Walker also coauthored a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy when he was a state legislator and indicated in 2012 that he would back a fetal personhood bill, which would give legal rights to zygotes from the moment of fertilization.

But Walker avoiding stating his positions on many of those issues in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board on Tuesday. Asked whether he considers a fetus to be a citizen, Walker shared an anecdote about sharing the ultrasound pictures of his sons.

"I, like a lot of parents and grandparents these days, showed their first picture, which was the ultrasound they had, and was proud about that," he said. "Like a lot of grandparents and friends that I have now who show off those same sorts of pictures on their iPhones."

Asked whether he still opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest, Walker said he defers to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that prevents states from banning abortion before the fetus is viable. A member of the editorial board then pointed out that Walker actually co-sponsored a bill in 1998 that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which is two to four weeks before viability. But Walker wouldn't say whether he still supports that policy.

"Those are all things that we'd have to look at in a future session out there," he said.

After dodging the same question a few more times, Walker finally added, "I think it's a human life, so that obviously raises some concerns for me."

Finally, the editorial board pressed Walker on whether he agrees with religious companies like Hobby Lobby that some forms of birth control, like emergency contraception and the intrauterine device, are akin to abortion. Walker's previous support for a personhood measure and the pharmacists' conscience bill suggest that he may be morally opposed to some forms of birth control. He also stopped enforcing Wisconsin's birth control coverage law earlier this year.

But the governor avoided taking a position in the interview. "It all depends on what you define as birth control," he said.

Walker then began to get annoyed at the line of questioning.

"Honestly, I challenge you to come out with me," Walker said. "You're not gonna find a day that goes by where any of the details you're asking me about are things that are asked of me in great detail. So you can ask them, but we've got a limited amount of time, and I would think people would want to hear about the issues that matter most to them."

Walker's opponent, meanwhile, told the same editorial board on Wednesday that she would veto a ban on abortion after 20 weeks and repeal the Wisconsin's mandatory ultrasound law. She gained 5 points on Walker after their first debate and is now tied with him, according to the latest Marquette poll.

EMILY's List, a progressive women's PAC, hit Walker on his abortion position in an aggressive local TV ad earlier this month.

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