MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican Gov. Scott Walker hasn’t said much publicly about his positions on abortion or gay marriage, but he proudly trumpets his stances on both issues in a letter to a conservative group whose endorsement he wants.
In the Sept. 5 letter to Wisconsin Family Action, Walker says 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 he 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 gay marriage.
Told of the letter by a reporter on Tuesday as she prepared to vote early at Madison’s city hall, Burke said Walker needs to clarify his positions publicly.
“He hasn’t been straight with people,” Burke said. “He does owe it to the people of Wisconsin to be clear on these issues.”
Walker opposes abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, but he hasn’t said that in so many words on the campaign trail. Earlier this month he ran an ad saying he’s “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 contentious 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 like those Walker touts as protecting women 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 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 the letter was dated, legalizing gay marriage in the state.
A Walker campaign spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a message.
Wisconsin Family Action has not endorsed the governor.
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