Walsh sparks firestorm with comment on necessity of medical abortion

Illinois Republican Rep. Joe Walsh is drawing flack from Democrats for his comment Thursday that, thanks to medical advances, there are no longer situations in which abortion is necessary to save a woman’s life.

During a debate with his Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth, Walsh said that he opposed abortion “without exception,” even in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother was in danger.

After the debate, WGN radio reported, Walsh was asked by reporters if he opposed an exception for the life or health of the mother because he felt such an exception was medically unnecessary.

“Absolutely,” he said.

“With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance,” he said. “… There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing.”

Medical experts disputed the claim.

Dr. Erika Levi, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, cited a variety of reasons that a pregnancy can turn dangerous, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“Life-threatening medical conditions that can lead to terminating a pregnancy include infections of the uterus or the amniotic sac surrounding the fetus, some heart conditions and pre-eclampsia, a rapid rise in blood pressure that occurs during pregnancy and in the period right afterward,” the Tribune wrote.

“All of these conditions can occur throughout the pregnancy,” Levi said. “If these conditions occur prior to viability (of the fetus) then, at that point, abortion can become the only option to save the life of the mother.”

Democrats have tied Walsh’s comments to those made by Missouri Rep. Todd Akin in August, that victims of “legitimate rape” do not become pregnant.

“Joe Walsh is just the latest Republican to publicly admit he has dangerously little understanding about women’s health and basic biology,” said EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock. “His comments were offensive and embarrassing, but at this point, it’s hard to say [they’re] shocking. Todd Akin and Joe Walsh are not outliers in today’s GOP – they simply say what everyone else is thinking.”

“Joe Walsh’s ignorance about women’s health is alarming,” echoed Planned Parenthood Action Fund Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens in a statement to Roll Call.

“It appears ‘Doctor’ Joe Walsh gets his information from the same elite medical school as Todd Akin,” said Haley Morris of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Sadly, Congressman Joe Walsh has betrayed a level of ignorance about women’s health that’s offensive, but far too common-place within the Tea Party. Although national Republicans are still standing behind Congressman Joe Walsh, Illinois voters will not tolerate his ignorance and extremism any longer.”

National Republicans do not appear to have any intentions of dropping their support of Walsh, as many did for Akin.

“We will continue to hold Tammy Duckworth accountable for cheating on her taxes while accepting millions in special interest cash. That’s what our ad accomplishes, and it will remain on the air through Election Day,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Andrea Bozek told Roll Call.