Democrat Tammy Duckworth today campaigned with a California congresswoman who said she had to have an abortion to save her life as part of Duckworth's ongoing effort to highlight her differences with Republican Rep. Joe Walsh.
The appearance with Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier came after Walsh's remark last week that it was never medically necessary for a woman to have an abortion to save her life. The freshman GOP lawmaker later said there were "very rare circumstances" for a life-saving abortion.
Duckworth also has sought to link Walsh with Republican Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who said this week that a pregnancy after rape is "something that God intended to happen," and Todd Akin, the Missouri Republican Senate candidate who said this summer that in cases of "legitimate rape," a woman's body can prevent pregnancy.
"There's a movement in Washington and Missouri and Indiana and even here at home in the 8th Congressional District to spread lies and myths about women's health, whether it is Congressman Akin, whether it is Richard Mourdock, and my opponent Joe Walsh, who believed that if they distort the facts enough, they can take away all choices from women," Duckworth said. "Who would ever believe that a female body would try to shut down a pregnancy in the case of rape? Or in the case of Mr. Walsh, that an abortion is never medically necessary to save the life of a mother?"
Walsh pushed back in a statement today.
"What happened to Congresswoman Speier and women like her is tragic and sad, and my thoughts go out to her. As I said last week at my press conference, I believe that there are very rare circumstances such as ectopic pregnancies when both the unborn child and the mother will lose their lives unless the pregnancy is terminated. In those rare cases, I believe that the decision made must be left to the family," Walsh said in a statement e-mailed by his campaign.
Walsh sought to refocus the discussion in the 8th Congressional District race on Duckworth's attack ad centered on the congressman's now-settled child support case.
"Now she is bringing out a colleague of mine who endured a tragic time in her life, that I only feel sadness for and support her decision," Walsh said in the statement. "Does Ms. Duckworth have nothing else to run on except attacking my family and trying to mislead voters on my position on supporting the life of the mother and the child? It seems like Ms. Duckworth hits a new low every week."
Duckworth today suggested Walsh is the one who switched the focus of the contest to the abortion issue with his remarks.
"He has made this about choice, and women in this district are appalled, absolutely appalled, that these rights that they have earned over these years are now going to be eroded by the likes of Mr. Walsh and Todd Akin and Rich Mourdock," she said.
Speier, who previously has spoken about her abortion on the House floor, said she was 17 weeks pregnant when they tried everything they could to save the fetus, but were unable. Today, Speier said she also had to have another abortion when she was 10 weeks pregnant when the fetus' heartbeat had stopped.
"If we prevent abortions from taking place, that would mean that women who miscarry in this county would have to carry those fetuses until they somehow expelled," she said. "It's a profound experience to know that you had life in your uterus and now it is dead."
Speier, 62, has two children, one in college and one out of college.