Illinois: Joe Walsh’s Todd Akin Moment?

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted October 19, 2012 at 12:40am

Rep. Joe Walsh asserted Thursday night that an abortion is “absolutely” never medically necessary to save a woman’s life because of “modern technology and science,” according to multiple local media accounts.

The Illinois Republican does not support abortion in any circumstance — including in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman — and the issue was a focus of his debate with Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth.

“With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance” of a woman’s life being endangered by pregnancy, Walsh said after the debate in response to a reporter’s question. “There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing.”

His comments were redolent of those made in August by Missouri Republican Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, who was spurned by his party for saying that women rarely become pregnant as a result of rape because their bodies have “ways to shut that whole thing down.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, Republican National Committee and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney have refused to support Akin in his bid for the Senate because of his remarks.

When establishment Republicans began to turn away from Akin in late August, Walsh defended the embattled Member to a local newspaper, the Elmhurst Patch. “What he said was offensive, insulting and wrong, but I’m bothered by this rush to pile on. … And I’m bothered by the silence of members of our own party to stand up for him,” Walsh said.

Though it’s unclear whether Walsh’s remarks will prove as damaging as Akin’s, Duckworth certainly saw an opening Thursday, charging that Walsh “would let a woman die,” according to an account published by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Given the new, more Democratic borders to Illinois’ 8th district, the comments could make what was already shaping up to be a climb for Walsh even steeper.

Roll Call rates this race as Lean Democratic.