- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker pushed back Wednesday against criticism from abortion rights advocates who say it is wrong for the Republican to argue in a new campaign ad that he has worked to protect women’s health and safety.

The issue of women’s health and abortion has exploded in recent days in the governor’s race, with Walker and supporters of Democrat Mary Burke flooding the airwaves with conflicting messages.

On Tuesday, Walker took to the air with an ad in which he talks directly to the camera and says, “I’m pro-life. But there’s no doubt in my mind the decision of whether or not to end a pregnancy is an agonizing one. That’s why I support legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options.”

He ends the ad by saying that reasonable people can disagree on the issue but that his priority is to “protect the health and safety of all Wisconsin citizens.”

Walker is a longtime abortion opponent. He believes that abortion should not be allowed, even in cases of rape, incest or when the health of the mother is at stake. Last year, he signed into law a requirement that women get an ultrasound before having an abortion and that doctors who perform abortions have admitting credentials at nearby hospitals.

The regulations Walker signed into law do nothing to protect the health and safety of a mother, said Dr. Douglas Laube, a gynecologist with more than 40 years of experience in Wisconsin and a past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Laube joined with Planned Parenthood leaders in a conference call to denounce Walker’s ad.

Safe, effective birth control and access to preventative screenings are the best ways to have planned pregnancies, healthy mothers and fewer abortions, he said.

“His ad was beyond misleading,” said Planned Parenthood Advocates executive director Tanya Atkinson in a conference call. “It was disingenuous and, candidly, it was false.”

But Walker, when asked about the ad after a speech in Madison, said many people are trying to “spin what the legislation may or may not be.”

“But we think it is pretty straightforward,” Walker said. “We think it’s about increasing public safety and providing a woman with more information about her options.”

Emily’s List, a Washington-based group that works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, also released an ad Tuesday attacking Walker’s anti-abortion positions, including signing the ultrasound requirement.

“Scott Walker needs to get out of my patients’ private lives, out of my examining room, and just leave women alone,” a woman identified as a nurse practitioner says in the spot.

Last week’s Marquette University Law School poll showed Walker with a slight 5-point advantage in the race but trailing Burke by 14 points among women. The poll had a 4.1-point margin of error.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP


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