Congressman Joe Walsh and a cadre of suburban women representing a variety of stances on abortion Friday sought to turn the conversation from social issues back to the economy in the 8th District race.
The news conference outside a Bloomingdale law office came a week after Walsh came under fire for comments suggesting that, because of advancements in science and technology, abortions were no longer needed to save a woman's life. The gathering also followed a Thursday appearance by a Democratic congresswoman from California who underwent two medically necessary abortions and flew to the suburbs to support Walsh's opponent, Democrat Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates.
"Women from right here in this 8th district ... pro-choice and pro-life have all come together to ask a simple request of Ms. Duckworth," Walsh said. "Would ya please, would ya please have enough respect for women to speak to the issues that matter this year to women and their families?"
Duckworth has tied the McHenry Tea Partyer, who describes himself as "pro-life without exception," to other Republican candidates across the country who have made controversial remarks this election cycle. In a news release this week, she described Walsh and Republican Senate candidates Todd Akin, of Missouri, and Richard Mourdock, of Indiana, as the "three stooges."
Marina Collazo, an Oak Brook-based small business owner and single mother who described herself as pro-choice, Friday called for the conversation to get past the letter "A."
"Talk to me like I'm a real woman," she challenged Duckworth. "I care about more things than abortion. So talk to me about it."
Peggy Thotos, of Barrington, said she was "offended" Duckworth seems to feel that abortion is the main issue this election.
Some women present at the news conference, including Dora Jimenez Briggs of Elk Grove Village, said they volunteered to come forward to help Walsh. Thotos said she was contacted by Walsh's wife, Helene, about attending.
Duckworth argues it is Walsh who's taken the focus off the economy with his remarks, and that she too has been contacted by women across the 8th district.
"He has made this about choice, and women in this district are appalled, absolutely appalled, that these rights that they have earned over these years are now going to be eroded," she said Thursday.
With just 11 days left in the election cycle, the nationally watched contest has gotten increasingly nasty.
Duckworth campaign manager Kaitlin Fahey called Friday's event "yet another attempt to distract voters from his outrageous statements on abortion." She went on to call Walsh's "extreme views" on women's health and other issues "completely out of touch with the 8th Congressional District."
The 8th District is roughly centered in Schaumburg and sweeps from Barrington Hills in the northwest to Oak Brook in the southeast.