Another Republican doesn’t understand female reproduction

October 19, 2012 • 10:13 am

Just when the Republicans thought they were getting over the stupid remarks of Republic Todd Akin (Missouri), who claimed that a woman couldn’t get pregnant from a “legimate rape” because her body would somehow prevent it, now another Republican has put his foot in it. This time it’s one of Illinois’ own, Congressman Joe Walsh, who’s facing stiff opposition from Democrat Tammy Duckworth.  As the Chicago Tribune reports:

At a televised debate with opponent Tammy Duckworth, Republican Walsh declared that abortion should be outlawed in all circumstances, including to save the life of the mother.

But it was his comments to reporters after the event at WTTW Channel 11 that sparked the most attention. Walsh said that medical advances had rendered it unnecessary to ever perform an abortion to save a mother’s life.

“With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance,” Walsh declared.

Asked then if he was saying it was never medically necessary to perform an abortion to save the life of a mother, Walsh responded: “Absolutely, yes.”

He did not elaborate on how he came to that conclusion.

You can see the video of Walsh’s statements at HuffPo here.  The statement that a fetus or fertilized can kill a woman if not removed is, of course, something that’s simply true.  Ectopic pregnancy is the most common, I think, but there are others. As HuffPo notes:

There could be several medical reasons for a woman to need to terminate her pregnancy in order to protect her life or health, but the most common is an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies, or pregnancies that occur outside the uterus, are a life-threatening condition that occur in one in every 40 to one in every 100 pregnancies, according to the National Institutes of Health. The developing fetus must be removed in those cases in order to save the mother.

Fortunately, Walsh has been corrected (and should apologize). Dawn Laguens, executive Vice-President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, issued a strong response:

“Joe Walsh’s ignorance about women’s health is alarming. It is deeply troubling that he and some politicians have such a fundamental disregard for women and women’s health. As the advocate for Planned Parenthood health centers, we know that ending a pregnancy can often be a very complex, personal decision and that there are absolutely times that a woman’s life depends on it,” the statement reads.

“If Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are elected, these ignorant statements will be more than words — they would become law. Joe Walsh and the Tea Party Congress are ready to completely ban abortion, and Mitt Romney has said that he ‘would be delighted’ to sign an abortion ban into law. The Romney/Ryan ticket has promised that they would put women’s personal medical decisions in the hands of politicians like Joe Walsh and Todd Akin.”

What do these Republicans have against women? Whatever it is, religion is playing a big role.

69 thoughts on “Another Republican doesn’t understand female reproduction

  1. There is quite a gigantic problem here. You elect these republicans to the house and you shall go back to living before any development in modern medicine among other many other problems!

  2. It’s really sad that there are so many people willing to accept these moronic statements as fact. If they would get their noses out of that 1000 year old book of fairy tales long enough to read a real book, they might actually start holding their politicians to a higher account.

    1. Who are you going to believe, the word of God or your lying eyes?

      ^sarcasm. Does not reflect this poster’s actual beliefs.

        1. Not that that Joe Walsh was in the Lyin’ Eyes era Eagles 😀 He joined for Hotel California, I seem to recall…

        2. Amazing how far a guy will fall when he leaves a great band like The James Gang for one like … The Eagles?! Jeffery Lebowski was right.

  3. Walsh said that medical advances had rendered it unnecessary to ever perform an abortion to save a mother’s life.

    “With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance,” Walsh declared.

    Okay, now THIS seems to me like a good example of “scientism.” Somebody is treating science like a kind of god or religion and failing to put a reality check on their enthusiasm. It has solved all our problems, case closed. Must have, by now.

    Which is ironic, considering what Walsh’ stance on the relative merits of science and religion probably are. Maybe its only the highly religious who are most likely to be guilty of the crime of scientism.

    1. I seriously doubt that this instance of “scientism” comes from any overconfidence in the ability of science to answer all questions. I would be willing to place a large bet that religious belief, greed, or an authoritarian personality, or some combination thereof, are the source. Walsh is just attempting to steal some validity from science and couldn’t care less if what he is saying is accurate, as long as enough suckers believe him.

      1. Oh, I wouldn’t argue that those elements aren’t in there also. But the smug and confident references to “modern science and technology” betray an optimism in modern science and technology that people who know more about the subject probably wouldn’t grant.

        When science isn’t looking like it’s going against religion, it’s god-given and infallible. Creationists have unshakeable confidence in creation science. Some Catholics cite “science says” on the Shroud of Turin and most New Agers announce “science now shows” on vitalistic energy claims as if they were bringing up Holy Writ and dissenters were just being perverse. Must be. Science is never wrong — when it confirms what’s actually True, and supports faith. Scientism.

  4. They should all just drop the pretense and come out and say it: “We value the life of the baby/fetus/cells MORE THAN the life of a living female in every situation.”

    They just do.

    1. I bet you could get them to change their minds if you explained to them that half of those fetuses are female.

      1. It makes no difference to the men. It just doesn’t concern them. It’s- in a very real sense- just not their problem.

    2. I wish one of them would explain just precisely how the fetus is going to survive if the mother dies. L

      1. God could step in at any time and miraculously save the fetus, and even the mother if he wanted to.

        And if he doesn’t, you can rest easy in the knowledge that you gave him the opportunity to do so, and did not try to play God by terminating the pregnancy. I mean, you’ll be dead, but at least you aren’t on the way to hell for an abortion.

        Now doesn’t that make you feel better?

    3. Well I’m pretty sure they don’t actually value the lives of children who are already born. That’s what I don’t get about these anti-choicers – they’ll stand out in front of abortion clinics for hours on end with their “abortion is murder” signs, and insist that all life is precious to them, all the while turning their backs on the very real suffering that so many children experience all around the world. I don’t think this has anything to do with actually valuing life. 22,000 children die every day on this earth, children who are already born, many of whom will not know a single minute without suffering during their short, miserable lives, and they best they can do is stand on a street corner with a crude sign trying to save the ones who haven’t even been born yet. Nope, these people don’t give two shits about life; this is all about religion and its twisted morality.

  5. Joe Walsh’s ignorance about women’s health is alarming…

    Yes. And even more alarming is the confidence he places in his wrong answers.

  6. It’s not just the immorality of choosing fetal tissue above adult (reproductive age) humans.

    A year or so ago, a good friend of mine sought my counsel. Her sister became happily pregnant with her third child — except there was a problem. She found out that the baby was anencephalic. No brain.

    No hope for recovery. No hope for an outcome other than either still birth or a few minutes to hours of “life” outside the womb. The doctors recommended terminating the pregnancy, because of the very real risk continuing it would have to the mother’s long-term health, including her ability to have additional children.

    And yet she agonized over the decision. It wasn’t made lightly. And the family grieved. And then she became pregnant and had a healthy baby.

    And these amoral morons would deny her the choice. They’re monsters of the highest order.

    1. Yes. I had a friend who discovered that the much-wanted baby was dead in her womb, at about 5 or 6 months into the pregnancy. It had to be removed. And she had to push with tear-stained face past shouting, pleading, angry lines of protesters in order to enter the clinic where she could get the abortion.

      1. That’s not technically an abortion, since the fetus was dead.

        And yet, as you point out, the procedure for extractions is very similar, and the protesters outside are certainly not going to wait for an explanation.

        1. Yes. My friend had previously been pro-life. But this experience changed her mind even though it wasn’t, as you say, an ‘abortion.’ She suddenly knew how real and personal and frightening such decisions were — and how real and personal and frightening the protesters were. She didn’t want to explain herself and her circumstances to them. And she could understand why nobody should have to feel they needed to explain themselves to them. It was an emotional reaction on her part, which changed her stance to pro-choice.

          1. Kudos to her for the change in attitude. There are some who would not have inferred from that that each other woman in that waiting room also had a personal story.

        2. Actually, I believe it is an abortion. Perhaps medically defined as therapeutic rather than elective.

          But still technically an abortion.

    2. Look at it from the religious perspective. Your friend obviously committed some heinous sin that deprived her poor baby of a brain, and your friend should have sorrowfully accepted the punishment Jesus meted out on her through her innocent baby. By killing her baby, she compounded her sin and Jesus is really upset with her, because it wasn’t her place to take the baby’s life.

      And these amoral morons would deny her the choice.

      Oh, they’re not amoral — not in the least.

      They’re immoral.

      Huge difference. They’ve got morals…it’s just that the morals they have are profoundly evil.


      1. I have read sentimental stories written by mothers who deliberately chose to give birth to babies whom they knew, in advance, would not live long. Pro-life, anti-abortion, and painful personal choice. They write eloquently about how the experience of holding their child, and then eventually accepting its death, taught them deep, important lessons about love and loss. They would not have had it any other way (ie abortion), so significant was their experience of growth on both the emotional and spiritual level. Sometimes they have wondered at the miracle of a baby living even longer than expected, so that the love was greater than expected. Love, acceptance, peace, and recognizing the wisdom of God in all things.

        This is how mothers coped with infant death before technology let them know, in advance, that the baby was doomed. And it’s hard to come in and judge that these individuals did the wrong thing, they grieved the wrong way (assuming the baby was not suffering the whole time.)

        But as a role model for how all mothers OUGHT to behave? An argument against abortion? Taking care of and holding a dying baby will help you become stronger and more loving towards life in general? It’ll make you a better person?

        To hell with that.

        1. Indeed. It’s the whole “suffering brings you closer to god” bullshit. Invented by the Catholic church to explain why their all-powerful god couldn’t prevent beriberi or scurvy.

          1. I think it was invented to explain why the peasants and serfs should not only tolerate but venerate the thugs who ruled over them.

        2. “assuming the baby was not suffering the whole time”

          And that’s a pretty big assumption.

          I’ve mentioned this before, but I had a niece who was born with undeveloped lungs. She spent her whole short life, all six months of it, in the NICU hooked up to a ventilator, usually with a feeding tube in her mouth or nose, being dosed alternately with steroids (to help her lungs grow) and antibiotics (to fight the infections she got because the steroids suppressed her immune system).

          I never got to see her in person, but I’m confident those six months were full of pain, discomfort, and fear. Sure, sometimes she would smile and play with the few toys she was allowed, or sleep in her mother or father’s arms. But that was it for quality of life for her.

          Now my SIL isn’t anti-choice, and she didn’t choose to go full term because she thought the experience of watching her baby die in her arms would be fulfilling or help her grow as a person. There was a tiny, tiny chance the baby would recover and survive, and she and my brother took that chance.

          Anyway, the reason for this long sad story is to explain why the attitude you describe makes me furious. Nobody should have to go through that, and nobody should tell anyone else how they have to handle it.

        3. An all-too-common failing is thinking that what works for you is what must work for everybody else, and this story you just related here and in your other posts about your friend is a perfect illustration of how that failing can crash with the real world.

          It’s not your responsibility to prevent others from themselves. It’s certainly within your right to offer advice, even unsolicited advice to friends if that’s the type of friendship you have.

          But you have no right to force others to live their lives the way you want them to, and your right to encourage others to live their lives a certain way has well-defined social and legal limits.

          Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one. If you think your friend is going to have one and you feel passionately enough about it that you’re willing to risk your friendship, go ahead and give her a piece of your mind — once, and then shut the hell up (unless she wants to continue the discussion). If that once isn’t enough to convince her, decide if you value said friendship more than you value letting your friend make an evil choice (if that’s how you view it), and either shut the hell up and love your friend for whom she is or never have anything to do with her ever again — but, either way, shut the hell up.

          You can also give speeches in suitable public venues, write books, or whatever.

          And that’s the most that it’s reasonable to impose your position on abortion upon anybody else. No laws, no picketing clinics, none of that bullshit.



  7. Jesus Christ. How the hell does one even manage to graduate high school with such a fucked-up understanding of basic human biology?

    Somebody pointed me to Rachel Maddow’s show last night where she had a really good take on how the Republicans are particularly fond these days of inventing a pleasant-seeming fantasy and staunchly believing it’s true, and how doing so is what’s causing them all these self-inflicted wounds of late. They had convinced themselves that the President hadn’t used the words, “act of terror,” for two full weeks after the 9/11 Libya attack that Romney stepped right in the trap they had laid for themselves when it turned out that, yes, that was how the President described it the very next day in the Rose Garden.

    Same thing to a certain extent with these misunderstandings about reproductive biology. Wouldn’t it be so much more convenient if women only got pregnant when they wanted a baby, and if all wanted pregnancies resulted in healthy births? That way you can know whether or not the woman was fulfilling her God-given role as babymaker just by whether or not she delivered a baby. And any signs that she had sex but didn’t deliver a baby — especially if she doesn’t deliver because of some action she took — are, by default, signs that she’s letting down poor Baby Jesus and therefore is a shameful whore who deserves to be destitute.

    It’s all so much simpler that way, I’m sure you’ll agree.


    1. To be fair to the Christians, the belief that there is some sort of mental magic involved in pregnancy isn’t confined to the pro-life stance. Pro-choice New Agers also believe that a person’s mind and attitude is critical to conception: you can’t get pregnant unless there is a part of you that really wants to get pregnant. What? Why? Because of the mind-body connection and us really being spiritual beings who know what we need to learn and thus we choose what happens to us. Or some other variation which gives super-powers to our Attitude and bypasses science, which Doesn’t Know Everything.

      Of course, they don’t apply this belief the same way, to the same political position — nor are they consistent. They will scoff and sneer at Akins or this guy and then look uncomfortable when it’s pointed out that well, don’t they also believe the same thing? Um, yes. But… not for the same reasons. They don’t hate women. Their beliefs are empowering. And soothing. It’s all for the best. Good things, iow.

      1. If a politician’s mistress gets pregnant? Then abortion suddenly becomes a real option. Wouldn’t hate them nearly so much if they practiced what they preach for others. They don’t.

        1. On the whole, I prefer them to be hypocrites. They bend towards reason when the circumstances warrant. A True Blue, Die-Hard Religious Fanatic may gain points for consistency, but it’s points going in the wrong direction.

      2. That same mindset means it’s also your fault when you lose your job because the plant got shut down. It’s pleasant enough on the surface, but really toxic underneath.


    2. It’s not just HUMAN biology that people are ignorant of.

      You cannot believe how many people I have encountered who think that dairy goats and dairy cows just sprout an udder for no reason and start giving milk. Presumably they took biology in high school, but probably they also believe that the stork brings babies. L

      1. What are dairy goats and dairy cows for?

        They were made to give us milk when we need it. Say thank you, Nature.

      2. Hasn’t there been some work on hormone treatments to induce lactation without full-term pregnancy?

        Completely unrelated to the point you make…I’m somehow reminded of the classic jokes of city slickers trying to milk bulls….


  8. As an outsider (Brit) it amazes me that there is even a contest in this presidential election. I know Obama is far from perfect but the alternative is…well, this kind of astonishing nonsense.

    No matter how many times I read the words ‘legitimate rape’ it makes me feel nauseous. And Romney would be ‘delighted’ to sign an abortion ban into law? How did it get to the point that these people are elected officials?

    Sorry, rant over. 🙂

    1. To be fair, what he meant by “legitimate rape” was not a rape which was somehow OK, but rather a rape which was a “real” rape rather than “date rape” or something else. I am not defending this distinction, and biologically what he said is nonsense, but there is no need to harp on the “legitimate rape” business as if he meant that the rape was somehow OK. (The statement is goofy enough as it is.)

        1. Not “date rape,” but when women get angry and claim to have been raped in order to get even for something, or get attention, or get out of a difficult situation. The sex was actually consensual.

          I suppose that does happen, but rarely and not nearly as often as they think it does. And that last motivation is much more likely in a patriarchal society which condemns “sluts” but admits there are victims.

          1. It does happen. I have a friend who was sexually involved with his girlfriend when they were both underage (he was slightly older). Her parents found out about it but did nothing until he turned eighteen, then had him arrested and charged with statutory rape. He spent six years in prison and twenty on the registered sex offender list. Fortunately, he finally successfully petitioned for removal from the list.

          2. I suppose that does happen, but rarely and not nearly as often as they think it does.

            someone posted a link (in the Lounge over on Pharyngula I think) to a published study looking at over a thousand incidences of reported rape, and found the incidence of false positives (reporting you were raped when you weren’t) was 5.9%.

            I wish I saved the link now, but I’m positive those were the numbers.

      1. I am sorry that I have to point out the fact that in ALL western countries there was legitimate rape until the 1990s – marriage.
        (in the Canon law of the Catholic church domestic violence is no reason for annulment still).
        This is what these horrible individuals have in mind – look up the things said when there were the debates about changing the law, I do not have the nerve.

    2. lanceleuven,

      I’m so glad as a female to live in Australia, however I’m deeply sad that a great nation like the US is held swayed by such ignorance and arrogance.

  9. Maybe a secret “plank” in the Repubican Party platform was an endorsement of the Flat Earth theory. No doubt religion plays a huge role in these folks’ ignorant proclamations. In the land of the insane the half-wit is king. Let’s hope that isn’t where we’re at today.

    1. Given their love of fiction, a hollow earth would be more their style. After all, isn’t Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Pellucidar” based on fact?

  10. Somebody should point out to Walsh the moron that Karen Santorum had to have a late term abortion or she would have died.

  11. I think this calls for deluging Walsh’s offices with angry mail. Not E-Mail, but paper mail. Imagine a million letters coming to his Capitol Hill cubicle.

  12. Oh FFS, this is simply false.

    There are a lot of medical conditions that can make a pregnancy fatal.

    Even Rick Satanorum’s, the Dark Age Pope wannabe, wife had a abortion to get rid of a dying fetus.

    The only moral abortion is their abortion. Bunch of ignorant, misogynistic hypocrites.

    1. You are on to something! Just like “legitimate rape” there can be “moral abortion.” Theirs. (But only theirs.) And I’m sure you’d have to mention you prayed about the decision first.

  13. Tea Party Rep. Joe Walsh sued for $100000 in child support…/tea-party-rep.-joe-walsh-sued-for-100000-in-c…

    27 Jul 2011 – Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill. addresses a Tea Party rally on Capitol Hill in … “..

    Joe Walsh is as slimy as anyone and likely a sociopath.

    This family values Taliban wannabe was sued for not paying child support. So, Joe, what’s wrong with feeding your kids? And how did they survive?

    Were they part of the 47% moochers and parasites on food stamps by any chance?

  14. Republican ignorance aside, 53% of the votes cast in 2008 were by women (Roper per Ask). If this is an important issue to women, they can control the election.

  15. Ectopic pregnancy is the most common, I think, but there are others.

    Treating an ectopic pregnancy involves treating the damaged tube rather than crushing a baby’s skull. It is not something any law reformer is referring to when they oppose “legal abortion”.

    1. sorry, but you’re flat out ignorant, or lying.

      banning ALL abortions, which is what these laws have been trying to do since Roe V Wade, does just that.

      it doesn’t just involve trying to repair a damaged fallopian tube (which often isn’t repairable, btw), it does indeed involve REMOVING the incorrectly placed fetus.

      run along and play, you demented halfwit.

    2. It involves removing the fetus from that tube. That’s a legal abortion, one which this politician and others want to make illegal.

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