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Embattled Walsh Modifies No-Exceptions Stance On Abortion

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Former Illinois Veterans Affairs director Tammy Duckworth (left) is running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh in the 8th Congressional District in 2012. (Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images/CBS)

Former Illinois Veterans Affairs director Tammy Duckworth (left) is running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh in the 8th Congressional District in 2012. (Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images/CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) –Congressman Joe Walsh receded from controversial comments he made after a debate this week, that abortions are never necessary to save the life of a mother because of medical advances.

Walsh, a Republican identified with the Tea Party, clashed with his Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth over abortion during a debate broadcast Thursday on WTTW. Walsh said he does not support exceptions for abortion and later told reporters there is no circumstance in which a pregnant mother’s life is in jeopardy.

“With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance,” he said. “This is an issue that opponents of life throw out there to make us look unreasonable. There’s no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother — same thing.”

But on Friday, Walsh said there may be “rare circumstances,” such as ectopic pregnancies. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fetus is formed outside the womb.

“I do, of course, support medical procedures for women during their pregnancies that might result in the loss of an unborn child,” he said.

Walsh, who passed abortion-rights protesters on his way to the news conference, did not take questions from reporters.

Duckworth, who says she is “pro-choice without restrictions,” charged on Thursday that Walsh “would let a woman die,” rather than allow her to have an abortion.

She was not satisfied with his statement Friday.

“Unfortunately, this is Mr. Walsh,” Duckworth declared after hearing of her opponents change in position. “He has repeatedly said many things that are inappropriate, many things that are not true, and he continues to say things that are irresponsible.”

Duckworth said she does not support any further restrictions beyond the framework of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion.

Under Roe v. Wade, states may not impose any legal restrictions on abortion during the first trimester. During the second trimester, some restrictions are allowed to protect a woman’s health. In the third trimester, states are allowed to limit or prohibit abortions to protect the life of the fetus, except when the pregnancy threatens the life or health of the mother.

“I think that women deserve to get their medical advice from physicians, not politicians,” Carol Brite of Illinois Planned Parenthood said Friday in response to Walsh’s latest comments on abortion.

Thursday night’s debate was the last before the Nov. 6 election. Walsh and Duckworth are vying for the Eighth District Congressional seat.

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