Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
GOP Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois on Friday slightly backed off from controversial statements about abortion, saying there are "very rare circumstances" in which the procedure is necessary to save a woman's life.
Walsh, a freshman elected with Tea Party support, told reporters Thursday night that science and technology have advanced to the point where it is not necessary to perform an abortion on a woman to save her life.
"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," he said originally. "Health of the mother has become a tool for abortions anytime, for any reason."
Walsh called a news conference Friday to clarify his remarks. He said he is "pro-life for the mother" and "pro-life for the unborn child," according to news stories by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. He read a statement saying besides ectopic pregnances, in which the fetus develops outside of the uterus, and other rare instances "the research is pretty clear that with the advances in modern medicine an invasive and traumatic procedure like abortion is often, thankfully, not necessary to save the life of the mother."
His original comments were condemned by women's groups and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said they were inaccurate.
Walsh is in a tight battle for re-election against Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who said her GOP rival's views "put women's live in real danger."
Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement that Walsh showed "ignorance about women's health."
"It is deeply troubling that he and some politicians have such a fundamental disregard for women and women's health," she said in a statement.
Women were tweeting outrage about Walsh's comments. Actress Martha Plimpton, star of TV's Raising Hope, was among the most vocal, posting on Twitter: "Have you had to terminate a pregnancy to save your health/life? Tell that idiot @RepJoeWalsh #WeExist."