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Republican U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden had previously opposed any access to abortions, even cases involving rape and incest.
In an interview in early 2023, Van Orden called on Wisconsin lawmakers to pass exceptions to abortion ban and consider a 15-week law.
U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Prairie du Chien, campaigned on strong, conservative views during his push in 2022 to flip Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District.
But following his win, he’s been doing some shifting on his stances.
Two years after he attended a rally before the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Van Orden voiced his regrets for being there, disavowing political violence. On the campaign trail, he was critical of Democrats’ revival of earmarks, but he has now requested $73 million in earmarks. He also announced he would support the GOP’s proposal to cut federal spending and raise the debt ceiling after pushing back on Republican leadership efforts to repeal energy tax credits.
So, eyebrows were raised when he had this to say about the state’s abortion ban following the fall of Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion:
"We should have a law in the state of Wisconsin right now that says we have exceptions for the life of the mother, rape and incest and we need to talk about a pain-capable, 15-week limit on abortion."
Van Orden made the comments during an April 13 interview on conservative talk radio show on WSAU. He previously had laid out a no exceptions view on abortion bans.
The issue is of special concern in Wisconsin, since the high court’s decision reverted the state to its 1849 abortion law, which bans doctors from performing abortions, except when the mother will die without the procedure. Doctors who perform an abortion face up to six years in prison on felony charges and $10,000 in fines if they violate the law.
Attorney General Josh Kaul and Gov. Tony Evers, both Democrats, filed a lawsuit that argues subsequent abortion statutes enacted have since rendered the original abortion law moot.
Before the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, state law allowed abortions for any reason at 20 weeks or more post-fertilization or 22 weeks after the individual’s last menstrual cycle.
That all makes this a prime one for our Flip-O-Meter, which — as regular readers will recall — examines whether a politician has been consistent on an issue, not whether any change amounts to good policy or good politics.
Let’s go back to the beginning.
During his 2020 campaign against then-Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, Van Orden said he opposed any access to abortions, even cases involving rape and incest.
In one interview on a conservative talk radio show on Wausau-based WSAU, he said: "You can't heal that evil (of rape) by adding more on it and killing someone — a human being that can only be described as the most innocent amongst us — is just compounding the evil of the rape of the incest."
Meanwhile, in a June 17, 2020, interview on the "John Muir Show," Van Orden said he was "100% pro-life" and on Aug. 7, 2020, the Leader-Telegram in Eau Claire reported he had likened abortion to "genocide."
What’s more, after winning the seat, Van Orden co-sponsored the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which passed in January 2023. The bill requires a health care practitioner to perform lifesaving efforts if a child is born alive after an abortion.
But week after voters elected Democratic Party-backed candidate Janet Protasiewicz to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a move that could tip the scale on abortion access, Van Orden made his comment that called for "exceptions for the life of the mother, rape and incest and we need to talk about a pain-capable, 15-week limit on abortion."
Pain-capable would be defined as an unborn fetus being able to feel pain during an abortion. In other words, the law would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
"We have to understand that we need to work collectively, for our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren, and our neighbors as Americans. We have to do that and that takes precedence over everything," Van Orden said in the interview. "I'm going to ask everybody to put aside your differences. You have to be able to understand that you're never going to get everything you want."
In an interview, Van Orden said: "We should have a law in the state of Wisconsin right now that says we have exceptions for the life of the mother, rape and incest and we need to talk about a pain-capable, 15-week limit on abortion."
This shows a shift in his position compared to what he had publicized in 2020 — even as recently as January by supporting an anti-abortion bill.
That makes this a Half Flip, which we define as "a partial change of position or inconsistent statements."
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 'That is a regret': Van Orden returns to Capitol two years after his Jan. 6 appearance, says he disavows political violence, Jan. 6, 2023
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Candidate Derrick Van Orden said earmarks would 'open the door to corruption.' In Congress, he's seeking $73 million, May 8, 2023
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rep. Derrick Van Orden backs debt limit bill after pushing Speaker McCarthy to make concessions, April 26, 2023
Rep. Derrick Van Orden interview on WSAU, April 13, 2023
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Arguments in abortion lawsuit at the center of Wisconsin's Supreme Court race begin in May, April 2, 2023
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, GOP U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden calls on Wisconsin lawmakers to pass exceptions to abortion ban, consider 15-week law, April 14, 2023
Rep. Derrick Van Orden interview on WSAU, May 13, 2020
Rep. Derrick Van Orden interview on the John Muir Show, June 20, 2020
Leader-Telegram, GOP Congressional candidates oppose virus mandates, impeachment, Aug. 7, 2020
United States Congress, H.R.26 - Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Liberal Janet Protasiewicz defeats conservative Dan Kelly in closely watched Wisconsin Supreme Court race, April 4, 2023
Associated Press, Wisconsin Republicans propose abortion ban exceptions, March 15, 2023
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