Former Rep. Joe Walsh said abortion to save the life of the mother is a lie. He’s wrong, but how wrong is he?

September 21, 2014

Abortion, Women's Health

Joe Walsh

“There’s 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 for any time under any reason.”

– Republican Representative from Illinois Joe Walsh during his 2012 campaign before losing to Democrat Tammy Duckworth (Source)

When asked to elaborate, Walsh stated, “With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance.” (Source)

However, physicians say he is absolutely wrong. According to Dr. Cassing Hammond, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine: “Walsh’s comments have no grounding in science and are completely inaccurate.

While life-threatening conditions during pregnancy are rare, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that 600 women die annually from pregnancy/childbirth complications.

Potentially life threatening complications necessitating abortion include:

  • Infection of uterus or amniotic sac surrounding fetus
  • Heart conditions
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Rapid rise in blood pressure
  • Diabetes complications
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Cancer

However, the leading cause of first trimester maternal mortality is ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilized ovum implants in a location outside of the uterus, usually the Fallopian tube, and in rare cases the cornua of the uterus, the ovary, cervix, or the abdominal cavity. About 2 of every 100 pregnancies are ectopic in North America. (Source) While not all ectopic pregnancies are fatal without treatment, they are a very real medical concern for pregnant women.

When asked for clarification again, Walsh contradicted himself:

“While, I do not support abortion, I do of course support medical procedures for women during their pregnancies that might result in the loss of the unborn child.  When such an occurrence takes place, that decision on whether to perform that procedure is a very difficult one and one that should be left up to the mother and her family.


To be fair, maybe Walsh doesn’t understand how abortion works. Abortion is a procedure that results in the termination of the pregnancy by definition. 

Leaving the choice up to the mother and family is also known as being pro-choice.

In conclusion, Joe Walsh is very, very wrong.

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About jslachman381

I'm a Yale graduate who majored in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health.

View all posts by jslachman381


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