Weather Updates

Joe Walsh’s lectures on abortion not women’s cup of tea

Updated: December 8, 2012 6:16AM

W hy did Joe Walsh, national Tea Party superstar, lose? And Tammy Duckworth win?

The question of a medically necessary abortion best explains it. In this election cycle, three men — all Tea Party candidates — made idiotic, unscientific assertions about abortion and/or rape. In Walsh’s case there is little question the firestorm that resulted drove him to defeat.

Walsh — whether you love him or hate him — has an Everyman quality that resonated with voters despite a litany of personal financial problems including a now-resolved dispute over $117,000 in back child-support payments.

In the newly drawn 8th Congressional District, there are plenty of aspiring middle-class families in Rolling Meadows, Carpentersville and Elgin who understand financial struggles to pay the bills.

By toning down his incendiary tendencies and focusing on fiscal issues, Walsh had by early October eliminated Duckworth’s 10-point advantage and was leading her by 3 points, 48 percent to 45 percent according to a We Ask America poll. And thanks to his 13-1 advantage in SuperPAC cash, Walsh was the beneficiary of almost $6 million in outside money.

He was on an improbable roll.

And Democrats were worried.

Those worries ended in the studios of WTTW-Channel 11 on the night of Oct. 18, when Duckworth and Walsh sat down for the campaign’s final public forum on “Chicago Tonight.”

The question was abortion, and Walsh’s position that he was “pro-life without exception.”

“The life of the woman is not an exception,” the GOP congressman said.

Duckworth, in arguably one of her most fiery campaign moments, shot back, “I’m pro-choice without restriction, and here though, Mr. Walsh . . . what he said — not for rape, incest or life of the mother — he would let a woman die rather than give her, than to give the doctor the option to save her life.”

Walsh protested, “That’s not fair.”

But in the news conferences that followed their debate, Walsh traveled down the same path that has likely doomed the U.S. Senate bids of two of his Tea Party comrades, Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana. Like them, Walsh offered up absurd psuedo-science about women and their bodies, arguing that medical advances make abortion unnecessary to save the life of a mother. A small army of doctors, within hours, furiously disagreed.

And so did women voters who are, like Walsh, deeply concerned about jobs and the economy. But who are outraged when Walsh, Akin and Mourdock lecture them about their legal reproductive rights. Or about rape and conception.

There is a day of reckoning for the Tea Party immediately after this election. The 2010 advances their candidates made, turning the U.S. House from blue to red, have come with a price paid by the moderate wing of the Republican Party. It is the alienation of thoughtful, independent women.

That’s why Joe Walsh was sent packing this election. And why Tammy Duckworth is going to Washington.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.