U.S. Representative Joe Walsh, an Illinois Republican seeking a second House term, said abortion is “absolutely” not medically necessary to save a pregnant woman’s life.
“There’s no such exception as life of the mother,” Walsh said. “And as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology. Health of the mother has become a tool for abortions any time, under any reason.”
Walsh, who was supported in his 2010 victory by the anti- tax Tea Party movement, is in a tight race against Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth, a double-amputee Iraq War veteran, in Illinois’ 8th District, which includes suburbs of Chicago.
Walsh’s statements will give new ammunition to critics of the Republican Party’s stance on abortion rights. Representative Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican running for the Senate, said last month that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy, a comment has proven a liability in his race to unseat Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.
Walsh made his remarks to reporters after he debated Duckworth on Thursday. The comment was first reported by Chicago media.
Walsh’s support for an abortion ban with no medical exceptions is consistent with the Republican Party’s platform and at odds with the party’s presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who has said he supports limiting abortion “to only instances of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.”
Romney made his statement in a “pro-life” pledge last year that was posted on the National Review magazine’s website.
The Republican platform supports amending the Constitution to state that an “unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.” The document doesn’t include exceptions for medical necessity or for rape. Drafters say this is intended to give states latitude to legislate on the issue.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 1,294 maternal deaths related to pregnancy in 2006 and 2007. The rate of pregnancy-related deaths was 15.1 per 100,000 live births during 2006 and 2007, the center said.
The Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Political Report, political newsletters based in Washington, rate Duckworth as the “likely” or “favored” winner against Walsh.
Two requests for comment weren’t immediately returned by the Walsh campaign office.
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