Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., has highlighted the differences about abortion between him and his Republican rival, Herschel Walker ahead of Dec. 6’s U.S. Senate runoff election.
On Nov. 19, Warnock told students at Emory University in Atlanta that he believes "in a woman’s right to choose" and characterized Walker as holding the opposite view.
"He wants a nationwide ban on abortion. He says he doesn't support reproductive choice. He said no exceptions, which is a rather curious position for him to take," Warnock said, a nod to news reports about a woman who said Walker impregnated her and paid for the abortion. (A second woman made a similar allegation anonymously through her lawyer.) Walker denies the allegations.
Warnock said Walker doesn’t support exceptions, "he said not even for rape or incest or life of the mother."
For most of his Senate campaign, Walker spoke against abortion rights, often saying he was against exceptions and in favor of a national ban. But his stance hasn’t been consistent.
Warnock finished slightly ahead of Walker in the Nov. 8 midterm election, but with just less than 50% of the vote, forcing a runoff.
Herschel Walker repeatedly said he opposed abortion before October debate
We found multiple examples of Walker opposing abortion, including exceptions:
In September 2021, Walker suggested on a questionnaire for the Georgia Life Alliance that he believed all abortions should be illegal. The questionnaire asked respondents to write "yes" if they supported exceptions to prevent the death of the mother or in cases of rape, or incest of a minor. Walker left all three options blank.
Walker wrote: "I am 100% pro-life. As Georgia’s next Senator, I will vote for any legislation which protects the sanctity of human life, even if the legislation is not perfect. Every human life is valuable and absolutely worth saving."
In May after Walker’s campaign speech in Macon, a reporter asked Walker whether he wanted a stricter abortion ban than the 2019 Georgia law that banned abortion after about six weeks.
Walker told reporters: "There’s no exception in my mind. Like I say, I believe in life, I believe in life."
In July, reporters asked Walker about the Senate potentially voting on a national abortion ban. He said, "There's not a national ban on abortion right now, and I think that's a problem."
Walker spoke about abortion at a roundtable in August with the African American Voices of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
"I believe in life. And I said, you know, if anyone wants to have an exception, I said, ‘Not in my book,’" Walker said. "I said, ‘I’m sorry. I feel bad for anyone that’s a victim of any kind of crime.’ I do. I feel like that. That is terrible and that’s horrible, but we deal with that as it comes."
Walker added: "But right now, to say that it is OK for a woman to kill her baby when they said, ‘Thou shall not kill,’ and I said, ‘I can’t square, I can’t get around that.’ So, I will always vote for what my religious beliefs tell me."
Late in campaign, Herschel Walker showed support for legislation with exceptions
We also found some instances when Walker showed support for legislation that included exceptions.
In September, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., proposed a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks. The proposal included exceptions for cases of rape, incest and the mother’s life and physical health. Walker told reporters in a statement that "the issue should be decided at the state level, but I WOULD support this policy."
A Walker campaign spokesperson, Will Kiley, told PolitiFact Walker would vote in favor of Graham’s bill.
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In October, Walker said at a debate that he supports the 2019 Georgia law that bans abortion around six weeks. The law has exceptions for rape and incest up to 20 weeks, if an official police report has been filed or if a physician determines that the pregnancy is not viable. The law also provides for later abortions when the mother's life is at risk or a serious medical condition renders a fetus unviable.
The 2019 law didn’t take effect until July 2022, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark case Roe v. Wade, which protected abortion access nationwide. This month, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney struck down the law, saying. it was unconstitutional when drafted. The state attorney general filed a notice of appeal.
Warnock said Walker "wants a nationwide ban on abortion" and said no exceptions "not even for rape or incest or life of the mother."
For most of the campaign, Walker has supported a national abortion ban. He’s also said repeatedly that there shouldn’t be exceptions. But he hasn’t been 100% consistent.
Late in his campaign, Walker said he supported two measures that included exceptions: Graham’s bill banning abortion nationwide at 15 weeks, and a 2019 Georgia law.
Walker has also made conflicting statements about what entity should create abortion rules. He’s said the issue should be decided at the state level, while also supporting a nationwide ban.
Walker backs efforts that further his goal to ban abortion, even if proposals have exceptions.
Warnock's statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information. We rate it Mostly True.
Emory Democrats, Sen. Raphael Warnock speech, Nov. 2022
Washington Post reporter Sabrina Rodriguez, Tweet, Nov. 19, 2022
Georgia Life Alliance, Herschel Walker questionnaire, Sept. 24, 2021
Axios, These GOP Senate candidates oppose most exceptions to abortion bans, May 8, 2022
New York Times, As he runs in the G.O.P. primary for Georgia Senate, Herschel Walker says he wants a ban on abortion with no exceptions. May 19, 2022
The Hill, Herschel Walker says he wants total ban on abortion: ‘There’s no exception in my mind’ May 20, 2022
Herschel Walker, Statement on Supreme Court abortion ruling, June 24, 2022
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Jolt: Republicans will ‘pay the price’ for anti-abortion law, Democrats vow, July 21, 2022
African American Voices Faith Roundtable, Aug. 22, 2022
CNN Wire, Graham proposes 15-week abortion bill, dividing Republicans ahead of midterm elections, Sept. 13, 2022
11Alive, Herschel Walker on abortion, July 22, 2022
Fox5 Debate, Georgia Senate debate, Oct. 14, 2022
CNN, Herschel Walker claims he never said 'no exceptions' on abortion. He did, on video, Oct. 18, 2022
CNN, Walker as recently as August indicated he opposed exceptions to abortion, contrary to debate claim, Oct. 19, 2022
NPR, Second woman says Ga. Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker paid for abortion, Oct. 26, 2022
AP, Judge overturns Georgia's ban on abortion after 6 weeks, Nov. 15, 2022
Georgia, HB 481, 2019
PBS NewsHour, Appeals court allows Georgia abortion law to take effect, July 20, 2022
PolitiFact, Seizing on abortion, Democrats claim Republicans back no-exceptions bans. That isn’t true for all, Oct. 14, 2022
Email interview, Michael J. Brewer, spokesperson for Raphael Warnock campaign, Nov. 21, 2022
Email interview, Kara Richardson, spokesperson for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, Nov. 21, 2022
Telephone interview, Will Kiley, spokesperson for Herschel Walker campaign, Nov. 21, 2022
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Herschel Walker supports efforts furthering goal of banning abortions