Walsh under fire over abortion comments

Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2012, 2:45 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story

CHICAGO (AP) An Illinois congressman and tea party favorite known for controversial statements is coming under fire for saying that abortions are never necessary to save the life of a woman because of advances in science and technology, and that 'health of the mother has become a tool for abortions any time under any reason.'

Republican Joe Walsh made the assertions during and after a debate Thursday night with his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth. The two are embroiled in one of the nation's most closely watched congressional races, Illinois' newly drawn 8th District.

'This is an issue that opponents of life throw out there to make us look unreasonable. There is no such exception as life of the mother and, as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology,' Walsh told reporters after the debate, during which he said he was 'pro-life without exception.'

Medical experts responded quickly, saying abortions are sometimes necessary to save a mother's life, including during ectopic pregnancies, which occur outside the uterus. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said more than 600 women die annually from pregnancy and childbirth-related reasons in the U.S. and 'in fact, many more women would die each year if they did not have access to abortion to protect their health or to save their lives.'

'These inaccurate comments are yet another reason why The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' message to politicians is unequivocal: Get out of our exam rooms,' the college said in a statement.

During the debate, Duckworth said that Walsh would 'let a woman die rather than to give the doctor the option to save her life.' Walsh protested that her comment was unfair.

Walsh did not explain how he came to his conclusions, and a spokesman did not immediately respond Friday to a message from The Associated Press. The congressman planned to hold an afternoon news conference to talk about his comments.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund released a statement on its website calling Walsh's comments 'alarming and erroneous.'

'It is deeply troubling that he and some politicians have such a fundamental disregard for women and women's health,' the statement read.

This is just the latest controversy for the freshman politician. Shortly after his 2010 election, he accused President Barack Obama of spending money 'like a drunken sailor.' He more recently accused Duckworth, a former Obama administration official who lost both legs in Iraq while serving as an Army helicopter pilot, of using her injuries to score political support.

Earlier this year, Walsh told a crowd at a town hall meeting that the Democratic Party's 'game' was to make Latinos dependent on government just like 'they got African-Americans dependent upon government.' He also said there are radical Muslims in Chicago's suburbs 'trying to kill Americans every week.'

Walsh's congressional district was redrawn last year by Democrats as part of a once-a-decade redistricting process. The Democrats see the race as an opportunity to help regain control of the U.S. House.


Local events heading

  Today is Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital.
1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post .
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.

(More History)