In a gubernatorial campaign largely centered on jobs and the job performance of the candidates, Democrat Tom Barrett has injected abortion into the debate, using a stark TV ad to take aim at his opponent, Republican Scott Walker.
A couple identified as Lana and Mike appear on the screen. Mike says their teenage daughter was brutally raped. "You can’t imagine what she went through," he says. "That’s why politicians like Scott Walker make me so mad."
The screen goes black. Then as Mike continues, the words he says also appear on the screen:
"Scott Walker wants to make abortion illegal, even in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother."
Mike concludes: "Who is Scott Walker to play God with our family?" and -- repeating a common theme from Barrett and the Democratic side -- says he feels Walker is "too extreme for Wisconsin."
As voters weigh their choices in the Nov. 2, 2010, election, there is no dispute that Barrett is pro-choice and Walker is pro-life. But Barrett’s claim, which may be new to many viewers of the ad, is that Walker wants to outlaw abortion under any circumstances.
It is worth noting that many voters who consider themselves pro-life support make an exception for abortion being available in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother. A May 2009 Gallup poll, however, found that 23 percent of Americans -- up from 17 percent a year earlier -- said abortion should be illegal under all circumstances.
For his part, Walker has said repeatedly he opposes abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. He declares himself "100 percent pro-life." And to Pro-Life Wisconsin, an organization that opposes abortion without exception, Walker pledged to seek a complete abortion ban.
We asked Jill Bader, Walker’s campaign spokeswoman, about Barrett’s ad and she said it accurately states Walker’s position.
(We would note that as a member of the state Assembly, Walker backed an effort to bar government employees from performing abortions and a bill outlawing "partial-birth abortion"; both measures included an exception for when the life of the mother is at stake.)
This is one item we can assess quickly.
In the race for governor, Democrat Tom Barrett said his opponent, Republican Scott Walker, "wants to make abortion illegal, even in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother." Walker acknowledges that is his position. We rate Barrett’s claim True.
Barrett for governor campaign TV ad, "Too Extreme," Oct. 20, 2010
E-mail interview with Barrett campaign spokesman Phil Walzak, Oct. 21, 2010
Gallup pollon abortion, May 2009
Interview and e-mail interview with Walker campaign spokeswoman Jill Bader, Oct. 21, 2010
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Abortion, birth control are wedge issues in governor’s race, Oct. 2, 2010
Pro-Life Wisconsin, Abortion -- Can there be exceptions?
Walker for governor campaign website, Protecting Life
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Assembly endorses ‘partial-birth’ ban, May 23, 1997
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Scott Walker: Look to his legislative record, April 14, 2002
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