Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois Insists That There Is Never Any Need for an Abortion to Save a Pregnant Woman’s Life Because of Advances in Science and Technology

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Is there a Republican war on women? Paul Ryan, the GOP candidate for vice president, mocked the idea of any such thing when he made the following comment at a private fundraiser in Florida last week: “Now it’s a war on women; tomorrow it’s going to be a war on left-handed Irishmen or something like that.”

Ryan may think his party’s “war” on women is a topic of humor…something to be derided. He may perceive things like a woman’s right to determine what is best for her own health and well being differently from the way many of us of women do. After all, Ryan did cosponsor personhood, ultrasound, and “Let Women Die” legislation. He also supported the Blunt Amendment.

Ryan is not the only Republican politician who has brought his party’s comments and positions on women’s issues under scrutiny. Not long ago, Todd Akin, a senate candidate from Missouri, was skewered by the media when he made a claim that women who are victims of “legitimate” rape can’t get pregnant. And just last week, a comment made by Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois about abortion brought the whole issue of the Republicans’ anti-woman attitude into the limelight once again. After Walsh’s debate with Democrat Tammy Duckworth the other night, he claimed that there is never any reason for a woman to have an abortion—even to protect her health or save her life.

Walsh said—and I quote: “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. Health of the mother has become a tool for abortions any time, under any reason.”

There you have it…straight from the mouth of Rep. Joe Walsh:  Women today can never suffer any adverse effects of a pregnancy or die from complications of pregnancy because of “advances in science and technology.” Unfortunately, Walsh never mentioned what those scientific and technological advances might be.

It appears that the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists may not be aware of all the newest scientific and technological advances that Rep. Walsh spoke of. That’s probably why the organization said that remarks like his are one of the reasons why it feels politicians need to “get out of our exam rooms.”

The organization said:
“Contrary to the inaccurate statements made yesterday by Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), abortions are necessary in a number of circumstances to save the life of a woman or to preserve her health. Unfortunately, pregnancy is not a risk-free life event, particularly for many women with chronic medical conditions. Despite all of our medical advances, more than 600 women die each year from pregnancy and childbirth-related reasons right here in the US. 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.”

It seems there are others in the medical community who are also unaware of those scientific advances. Mark I. Evans, president of the Fetal Medicine Foundation of America and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, said that Walsh’s claim was “absolute nonsense. This is scientific and political malpractice.” Lawrence Pratt, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles and the director of the Center for Fetal Medicine and Women’s Ultrasound, said that abortions can save the lives of pregnant women who suffer from different medical conditions—including an ectopic pregnancy, “in which a fetus develops outside of the normal location in the womb and can cause the uterus or tube to rupture, leading women to bleed to death.” He added that pregnancy can also “worsen the conditions of women suffering from heart, lung and kidney diseases, among others, that can lead to death.”

Dr. Carrie Terrell, an ob-gyn and chief of staff at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, said that there “are innumerable potential instances wherein a termination of pregnancy would be indicated to save a woman’s life.” She added that some of those “instances” included such serious conditions as the following:

• chorioamnionitis in pre-viable pre-term premature rupture of membranes (a bacteria-related inflammation of the fetal membranes),
 • severe pre-eclampsia and other hypertensive (high blood pressure) disorders,
• certain forms of cardiomyopathy (a disease that weakens and enlarges the heart),
• various maternal cardiac and pulmonary anomalies,
 • severe nephrosis,
• severe cancers,
• infections with sepsis, and
• multi-organ failure.

Terrell also said that “she sees pregnant women with these kinds of conditions several times a year”—and that in some cases the women who choose not to terminate their pregnancies “die as a result.”

I’ve been trying to figure out if politicians like Todd Akin and Joe Walsh really believe the things that they say about women, rape, pregnancy, and abortion—or if they are just attempting to tell their constituents what they think they want to hear. What do you think?

From CBS News–Walsh backtracks: Abortion to save a mother’s life is up to her


Joe Walsh On Abortion: No Exception For ‘Life Of The Mother’ Thanks To ‘Advances In Science And Technology’ (Huffington Post)

Walsh, Duckworth clash on Medicare, abortion (WGN Radio)

Paul Ryan Mocks ‘War On Women’ At Private Fundraiser (Huffington Post)

Rep. Joe Walsh: “Not one instance” where abortion necessary to save woman’s life (CBS News)

Rep. Walsh Says No Need for Abortion to Save Mother’s Life (ABC News)

Congressman Walsh Says Abortion Not Needed to Save Lives (Business Week)

Rep. Joe Walsh’s abortion comment is stunning in its ignorance (MinnPost)

61 thoughts on “Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois Insists That There Is Never Any Need for an Abortion to Save a Pregnant Woman’s Life Because of Advances in Science and Technology

  1. Walsh sez: “Health of the mother has become a tool for abortions…”


    Seems to me that Walsh is the ‘tool.’

    Actually he is a wedge. Everyone knows what a wedge is. A wedge is the simplest tool.

  2. Elaine,

    One might not see it because it lacks the pundits focus, but the attack on the rights of women, 50% of the population, is this elections biggest issue.

  3. I don’t think the bulk of Republicans of the Akin or Walsh type see women as people. Just like they don’t see the old, the poor, or the other-than-white folks as real people.

    They can’t really be tools, tho’….tools are USEFUL.

  4. This seems to be a good thread to post this news item. Should fit right in with the worldview of folks like Walsh and Akin. In Afghanistan, that bastion of women’s rights, where our service members are fighting and dying to protect their “way of life,” comes this news item:

    Mah Gul, a young Afghan woman, was beheaded because she refused to become a prostitute, but not before being tortured and mutilated. That’ll show her!

  5. raff, I thought the highlight was his attack on Major Duckworth about her picking out a dress to wear for her presentation at the Democratic National Convention.

    Her retort to the effect she had the right to pick out a dress, because most of her adult life she had worn camouflage, was priceless.

    I always liked this photo taken on Veteran’s Day 2008.

  6. OS,
    you are right about the comment about her buying a dress. It is amazing that in this day and age, a tea party nutjob can try to make buying a dress a political statement. Especially from a guy who was over $100,000 past due on his child support and his ex-wife had to sue him to collect. He is not only a prime example of how low the Republican Party has sunk. He is also a prime example of how low a human being can sink.

  7. Youse have said it all, and well too……but let me add:

    Wearing camouflage? To escape being shot by stupid men—here and in Afghan costumes? Good idea.

    Cheap shots can be expected in politics….from creepy cheapies. Fortunately, Duckworth is obviously a true veteran.

    Can’t see why any woman who has or will bear children can vote for ANY Republican. They should be banned in the church/synagogue/mosque/woman gathering all over America.

    “Women”, say they, “they are those who do the messy things like pregnancies, birthings, have mens, change diapers, wipe noses; AND do such nice ones we men like—you know, them thar. And they do it so cheaply too.”

  8. Sorry Joe, I couldn’t disagree with you more…. Your own mother was in desperate need of an abortion, after that dog knocked her up with you!

  9. As to the question of “stupid v. demagog” I think we have reached a tipping point in the last few years and the wingnuts like Joey here are speaking less and less to inflame the base & more and more out of a deep seated ignorance.

    Take Willard’s hot mess from the last debate. Since only FAUX news and the wingnut rabble on radio have been pushing the lie that President Obama never used the word “terrorist” in conjunction with the attack in Benghazi he thought he was on safe ground & was actually stunned to be told he was wrong (look at his stupid face when told). Had he just been feeding the idiots he never would have gone down that road in that way. But, because he lives in a world separated from reality he BELIEVED the lie.

    Saw the same thing when 60 minutes interviewed Eric Can’tor. When questioned about St. Ronald raising taxes the Congressman’s CoS can be heard screaming off screen “HE NEVER DID!” When told by the reporter he had his only reply was “HE NEVER DID!”.

    Those people have passed simply being evil into being stupid with evil results. It does not make them better or worse, just a lot more difficult to deal with.

  10. I first heard about Joe Walsh in the nineties. He went to my sister’s church before he abandoned his family. Back then he was ran against Sidney Yates and lost badly. He moved and became a tea bagger and won. He is probably the worst of a very bad republican freshman group in congress. The polls show him to be losing but it is not a sure thing.

  11. JOE WALSH SETTLES CHILD SUPPORT DISPUTE WITH EX-WIFE | Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) and his ex-wife released a joint statement today saying they had reached a settlement of her claim that the freshman Congressman owed her $117,000 in unpaid child support. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed Since the couple divorced in December 2002, Walsh’s ex-wife repeatedly went to court to force him to pay and asked the court to garnish his wages. Child support payments are currently being deducted from Walsh’s Congressional paychecks. Walsh faces an uphill re-election fight this November against former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth (D).

  12. There are only two, maybe three solutions to Joe Walsh and his types.

    1. Sew his lips together.
    2. Cleave his head to let some ideas in.
    2. Vote for Lt. Col. Duckworth.

    Make your choice. A shame folks don’t tell him to shut the EFF up. Freedom of speech. Yeah. Not for those who don’t sing his praises.


    Here’s how the Norwegians used non-violence to extinguish such types. They avoided the bubble collapse. Read how.
    Written by a veteran protester, a Quaker Professor.

    The second is about how the Swedish workers did it non-vilently in 1931. You may have seen the movie: “Ådalen ’31”.

    Don’t mean to jack the thread, but with guys like Walsh it will be our turn soon to starve, and I don’t want to see the middle-class turn against the lower one as was done for a while in Norway. Do you?

  13. Rep. Joe Walsh’s Science Fiction on Abortion
    By David Wagner | The Atlantic Wire –
    Fri, Oct 19, 2012

    Walsh’s statements come with a long history of trolling. He previously angled for headlines by saying that Duckworth, who lost her legs serving in Iraq, was not a military hero. He’s also known for making sweeping, racially charged statements about minorities, once charging the Democratic Party with trying to hook Hispanics “on government just like they got African-Americans dependent on government.” Duckworth had a 14 point lead against Walsh in late September, but Walsh has been gaining on her steadily in past weeks.


    What kind of person would vote for this man?????

  14. When I saw a post about Joe Walsh I was hoping to hear Rocky Mountain Way. That Joe Walsh is clean and sober and promoting his autobio.

  15. ElaineM,

    I think she referrex in the “last word”-interview to massive negative ads paid for by PACS (Koch money?).
    Some will believe what they are fed if it comes often

  16. Should he be elected he should probably be on the committee for veterans affairs, or maybe the committee on intelligence. [sarcasm]

  17. Commiottee for beating wives out of child support???

    And of course committee on abortions—the latter only if he agrees to undergo an abortion each month, anatomically impossible but with modern science……!

  18. Off Topic:

    Federal Judge Blocks Arizona From Defunding Planned Parenthood
    By Tara Culp-Ressler on Oct 22, 2012

    A federal judge has blocked Arizona from implementing HB 2800, a measure that would have revoked Medicaid funding for family planning services at any health organization that also provides abortions, effectively defunding the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliates. The ruling represents a victory for Planned Parenthood, who sued to prevent HB 2800 from going into effect after Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) signed the bill into law in May.

    Judge Neil Wake rejected the argument that Arizona can cut off federal funding for family planning simply based on the state’s own determination that abortion providers aren’t qualified for Medicaid eligibility, pointing out that Medicaid recipients have the right to choose between the full range of qualified providers “without government interference.” Planned Parenthood officials told Reuters that they are pleased the judge’s decision will preserve health services for thousands of low-income women in Arizona:

    Bryan Howard, the president of Planned Parenthood Arizona, called the ruling “a victory for poor women” in the state. With the ruling, their health care will not be interrupted while the case moves forward, he said.

    “Today’s ruling affirms what we have said all along: no woman should ever have to fear being cut off from her doctor’s care because of shortsighted political games,” Howard said in a statement.

  19. My Tucson friend will be delighted.

    Hard living in a state dominated by snowbirds who are born red and vote red in Phoenix. Phoenix, great name. They take half the Colorado runoff to water their grass lawns with one day a week. Californias Central Valley takes the other half for greens and fruit.

  20. Re Duckworth, there she went again referencing that she was a veteran when she said dress got her out of camouflage. How dare she remind anyone that she fought in the military?
    Romney said at one point abortion except in case of rape iincest, health of mother. Ryan said “That’s a start” meaning towards outlawing any reason. Walsh has now taken care of the health part of it evidently.

  21. A little food for thought:

    Is Congress getting dumber, or just more plainspoken?
    by Lee Drutman
    May 21, 2012

    Congress now speaks at almost a full grade level lower than it did just seven years ago, with the most conservative members of Congress speaking on average at the lowest grade level, according to a new Sunlight Foundation analysis of the Congressional Record using Capitol Words.

    Of course, what some might interpret as a dumbing down of Congress, others will see as more effective communications. And lawmakers of both parties still speak over the heads of the average American, who reads at between at 8th and 9th grade level.

    Today’s Congress collectively speaks at a 10.6 grade level, down from 11.5 in 2005. By comparison, the U.S. Constitution is written at a 17.8 grade level and the Declaration of Independence at a 15.1 grade level. The Gettysburg Address comes in at an 11.2 grade level and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is at a 9.4 grade level. All these analyses use the Flesch-Kincaid test, which equates higher grade levels with longer words and longer sentences.

    In looking at the data more closely, a few other important patterns jump out:

    1. Controlling for other factors, it is generally the most moderate members of both parties who speak at the highest grade levels, and the most extreme members who speak at the lowest grade levels. This pattern is most pronounced among freshmen and sophomore members.

    2. Prior to 2005, Republicans on average spoke at a slightly higher grade level than Democrats. Since then, Democrats have spoken on average at a slightly higher grade level than Republicans.

    3. Some of the decline in grade level since 2005 is because junior members speak at a lower grade level than senior members, and some of it is because senior members have simplified their speech patterns over time.

    4. On average, the more words individual members speak on the floors of Congress, the simpler their speech tends to be.

  22. Elaine, My sister informed me yesterday that Joe Walsh has a masters degree from the University of Chicago.

  23. Tea party Congress is past its sell date
    By REP. STEVE ISRAEL | 9/30/12

    Time is up on this tea party Congress.

    House Republicans like to say that government should be run more like a business. I agree. If I had a business and only 13 percent of my customers approved of my product, I’d go out of business. It is time for them to go.

    For more than 20 months, this Republican tea party majority has put millionaires and special interests ahead of Medicare for seniors and jobs for the middle class.

    The tea party experiment has failed.

    Instead of fighting for middle-class jobs here at home, they fought for tax breaks for big corporations sending jobs overseas.

    Instead of protecting consumers from health insurance abuses, they tried 33 times to repeal those protections, even as they kept congressional health care for themselves.

    Instead of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, they tried to redefine rape.

    Instead of standing up for small businesses, they spent their time trying to shut down Planned Parenthood.

    And, instead of protecting Medicare for seniors, they voted to raise health care costs for seniors by $6,400 to give another $250,000 budget-busting tax break to millionaires.

    This isn’t a do-nothing Congress, it’s a do-damage Congress. And, now, Republicans have gone on vacation. Instead of working hard for the middle class, this Republican Congress hardly works.

    It doesn’t have to be this way. In a little over a month, we have a chance to fire the tea party Republican Congress, and entering the most critical stretch of this campaign, we have momentum.

  24. Swarthmore mom,

    Both Todd Akin and Paul Broun are supposedly well-educated too. I guess that hasn’t stopped them from saying and believing stupid crazy stuff.

  25. Elaine, This Walsh is a sleaze. His house was foreclosed on while he went off gallivanting with his girl friend. He lived three blocks from my sister.

  26. Tea Party craziness, extremism is making Republicans drink hemlock
    Sunday, October 21, 2012

    The latest jaw-dropping absurdity from a Tea Party politician came Thursday night as Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Illinois, made the case for why a woman should not be allowed to undergo an abortion even when her life is in danger.

    In Walsh’s opinion, there can be no danger.

    “This is an issue that opponents of life throw out there to make us look unreasonable,” said Joe. “There’s no such exception as life of the mother, same thing. With advances in science and technology, there’s — health of the mother has become a tool for abortion for any time, under any reason.”

    They say stuff like that. Missouri’s U.S. Senate candidate, Rep. Todd Akin, recently told a TV interviewer that in cases of “legitimate rape” a woman is able to shut down her body and will not carry a pregnancy to term.

    The Tea Party brewed up a political storm two years ago, helping blow away Democrats’ majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Two years later, the tea bag is becoming a weight around the neck of Republican candidates from one Washington to the other.

    Snohomish County Councilman John Koster revved up a 2010 Tax Day rally in Everett with anti-government rhetoric. In 2012, making his third bid for Congress, Koster is being pummeled in TV ads and fierce mailings, which cite his past statements about abolishing the U.S. Department of Education, outlawing abortion and privatizing Social Security.

    Even the founder of the Tea Party caucus in Congress, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is fighting for her political life. So is Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., who identified colleagues in Congress’ Progressive Caucus as “communists.”

  27. “Both Todd Akin and Paul Broun are supposedly well-educated too. I guess that hasn’t stopped them from saying and believing stupid crazy stuff.”

    Guess that depends on what you learned before you bought your college diploma.

    Bpth seem to be biological wonders. Surviving
    without a brain (each although) and only a big mouth!!

  28. “So is Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., who identified colleagues in Congress’ Progressive Caucus as “communists.””

    I think former Congressman Grayson will be pleased to nnote that he has been labeled a communist.
    He thoiught that his only fault is that he hate(d) the Republican Death Plan, sorry health plan.

    So do all living, except Republicans, but they died years ago—-mentally.

    Any Republicans here? Fess up. Come on, there must be at least one supporter of Walsh!

  29. GOP U.S. Senate Candidate Calls Rape Pregnancies A ‘Gift From God’
    By Ian Millhiser
    Oct 23, 2012

    At a debate this evening with his Democratic opponent Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock claimed that raped women should be forced to carry their rapist’s baby to term because their forced pregnancy is a “gift from God”:

    “I believe life begins at conception. The only exception I have for to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.”

  30. “I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.”

    Because sometimes God is just a cruel spiteful child who thinks it’s funny to follow a brutal sexual attack by forcing a woman to carry to term and preferably raise an ever present reminder of her ordeal and her attacker. You see, God is just like a budding sociopathic kid with an ant farm and a magnifying glass. Your suffering is funny as long as it brings an unwanted foetus to term.

    That sure sounds like a kind and benevolent God to me. God is love. Love of a cruel unjust prank that is.

  31. “I believe that having insane right-wing candidates piss away the natural GOP Senate majority is part of God’s perfect plan. ” Jonathon Chait

  32. DE-StSen-19] Delaware Indicts Top Republican by kavips – 2010 not-a-witch Christine O’Donnell gave a ringing endorsement to Eric Bodenweiser (R-Teabagger) for the State Senate 19th district seat. Unfortunately Bodenweiser was indicted Monday on 113 counts of child molestation and is in jail, not making campaign appearances. Jane Hovington (D) is now the only candidate on the stickered-over ballot.

  33. Romney is endorsing Mourdock:

    Romney Stars in Ad For Candidate Who Says Medicare And Social Security Are Unconstitutional
    By Rebecca Leber on Oct 22, 2012

    For the first time this election, Mitt Romney is starring in a campaign ad on behalf of another Republican candidate. Romney’s candidate of choice is none other than Richard Mourdock, the Tea Party favorite in a tight race for a Senate seat, who says things like Medicare and Social Security are unconstitutional.

    Romney has stumped for Mourdock before, saying “This is a man that I want to see in Washington” to “actually have the votes to get things changed.” He doubles down on his endorsement with the latest ad:

    “This fall I’m supporting Richard Mourdock for Senate. As state treasurer, Richard worked with Gov. Daniels to balance the budget and make government more accountable. As senator, Richard will be the 51st vote to repeal and replace government-run healthcare. Richard will help stop the liberal Reid-Pelosi agenda. There’s so much at stake. I hope you’ll join me in supporting Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate.”

  34. If the progeny of a rape is a gift from God, then the rapist was doing God ‘s work and shouldn’t be prosecuted. Now of course if you commit a rape and no pregnancy results, then you should be prosecuted because you failed God’s mission.

  35. rafflaw,

    Mike’s theory is an interesting one–for sure. I wonder how many more of these “rape” and “ladyparts” nutcases haven’t crawled out from under the woodwork yet.

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