I Still Don’t Know What Scott Walker Was Talking About on Abortion

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During Thursday’s debate, Scott Walker took the most extreme position of any candidate on abortion. Not only does he oppose exceptions for rape and incest, he even opposes an exception to save the life of the mother. “I’ve said many a time that that unborn child can be protected,” he said, “and there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of that mother. That’s been consistently proven.”

Huh? What was that supposed to mean? I was stumped then, and I’m stumped now. So I was happy to see Jonathan Allen’s subhead promising to explain it:

What Scott Walker was talking about when he said there are alternatives to abortion when the woman’s life is in danger

Great! So what was Walker talking about?

He essentially subscribes to the “double effect” doctrine, a well-established line of argument that governs how Catholic leaders think about the definition of abortion — and the desire to preserve the life of the mother and the viability of the fetus.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, in its “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,” makes a distinction between procedures designed to terminate a pregnancy to preserve the life of the woman and those for which the termination of the pregnancy is an unintended consequence of treating the woman….That is, the bishops believe intent matters.

Well, I’m still stumped. This Catholic doctrine governs what’s allowed and what isn’t, but it doesn’t say anything about there always being a way to protect the life of both the fetus and the mother.

So I’ll open this up to the floor. Does anyone know what Walker was referring to? What are the “many alternatives” that he claims are available to protect the life of an endangered mother? And who has supposedly consistently proven this? If you know, enlighten us in comments.

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It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

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