- Views & Opinions
Republican Gov. Scott Walker hasn’t said much on the campaign trail about his positions on abortion or gay marriage, but he proudly trumpeted his stances on both issues in a letter to a conservative group.
The ultra-right Wisconsin Family Action endorsed Walker earlier this week. In a Sept. 5 letter seeking the group’s endorsement, Walker said he passed legislation that gives women seeking abortions more information and health protection and that he cut off state funding for abortion providers.
He went on to say he was defending the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. He said he swore an oath to uphold the constitution and supports “marriage between one man and one woman.”
“I would hope that my record and the stark contrast with my opponent’s positions would garner your support,” the governor wrote.
Walker is locked in a tight race with Democratic challenger Mary Burke as the Nov. 4 election looms. The governor, who is mulling a 2016 presidential bid, hasn’t spoken publicly in detail on his positions on abortion or on gay marriage.
Told of the letter by a reporter as she prepared to vote early at Madison’s City Hall on Oct. 21, Burke said Walker needs to clarify his positions publicly.
“He hasn’t been straight with people,” Burke said.
Walker opposes abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, but he hasn’t said that in so many words as he’s been campaigning. Earlier this month he ran an ad that describes himself as “pro-life.” But he goes on in the ad to say he understands the decision to get an abortion is agonizing so he supported legislation to increase women’s safety and give women more information, he said.
Walker signed a bill last year that requires a woman seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound and doctors to show the woman the image of the fetus. The measure also requires abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
Abortion rights proponents argue that admitting privilege requirements are really thinly-veiled attempts to restrict access to abortion clinics. They maintain that such laws can force clinics to close because their providers don’t see enough patients in a hospital setting to gain admitting privileges. The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging Wisconsin’s law in federal court.
Walker supported the now defunct gay marriage ban as a legislator before he became governor. But as polls have shown more support for same-sex marriage he has repeatedly answered questions about the ban by saying his opinion doesn’t matter because a governor can’t change the constitution.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck the ban down a day before Walker’s letter to WFA was dated.
WFA president Julaine Appling praised Walker in a statement for signing the admitting privileges bill and defending the gay marriage ban.
A Walker campaign spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a message.