MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Right to Life head Barbara Lyons recently told her members she was “salivating” over the Republican U.S. Senate Ron Johnson. In just the last week, Johnson has said he would support exceptions for rape and incest, which the anti-choice WRTL opposes. Johnson’s GOP Madison primary opponent, Dave Westlake, has publicly opposed exceptions for rape and incest.
“Barbara Lyons may be ‘salivating,’ but it sounds like Ron Johnson is the one talking out of both sides of his mouth on his anti-choice positions,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “Unless Wisconsin Right to Life is nothing more than a shill for the Republican Party, it looks like Dave Westlake will have to be their endorsed candidate.”
During an interview last week on the right-wing Jerry Bader program on WTAQ radio, Johnson said, “I believe in a culture of life,” which is typically code for supporting no exceptions. But moments later when asked directly if he supported exceptions, Johnson said:
Bader: You’re pro-life … ahhh no exceptions to that? …you’re a … straight pro-life?
Johnson: …ahhh no, I would agree with the victims with the normal three exceptions, I mean …
Bader: Those would be?
Johnson: Rape … life … true life of the mother … and instances of rape and incest.
When asked a similar question on the right-wing David King’s “Kingdom Government” show last month, Dave Westlake, said he supports no exceptions for rape and incest:
King: Do you believe that women who have been victim of rape or incest or those whose health is jeopardized should have that option?
Westlake: That’s a tough question. Actually it’s not a tough question it’s an emotional question because that happens so infrequently. I am a 100% pro-life person. All right, I don’t believe in making exceptions based on that because depending on the source of the statistics you see rape and incest and these violent acts that ultimately result in pregnancy are between .01 percent and 1 percent. It just happens so infrequently that I can’t see making an exception based on such a small number. So I would not support that type of a caveat to a pro-life bill. I do believe if the mother’s life is at stake there needs to be some room and consideration there, but when you look at abortions out of convenience or very, very rare crimes I don’t support that at all.
Wisconsin statutes, while superseded by the rights guaranteed in Roe v. Wade, prohibit abortion unless it is medically necessary to save the life of the mother. On its 2008 candidate questionnaire, WRTL’s first two questions indicate it opposes exceptions to the state law in cases of rape and incest. A link to the questions is available at: http://www.onewisconsinnow.org/WRTLquestion20100614.