Support The Bulwark and subscribe today.
  Join Now

The Herschel Walker Abortion Exceptions Policy

For today’s GOP, abortion is acceptable when it is for the convenience of the father, politics, and personal interest.
October 11, 2022
The Herschel Walker Abortion Exceptions Policy
Herschel Walker speaks with the press following Herschel Walkers Unite Georgia Bus Stop rally at the Global Mall in Norcross, Ga on Friday September 9, 2022. (Photo by Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

GOP Georgia Senate nominee Herschel Walker makes a solemn promise to his audience as part of his stump speech: “All of you here are my family, and my father told me you take care of your family. You are my family, and I’m going to take care of you guys.” From another politician, such a line would come across as a slightly odd bit of campaign-trail pandering. But from Walker, this vow to perfect strangers rings especially hollow; after all, he certainly hasn’t shown that kind of devotion to his real family.

Publicly, Walker campaigns for a total ban on abortion with no exceptions, criticizes absentee dads, and portrays himself as a faithful father. In his personal life, there’s a long trail of evidence showing he has encouraged and paid for an abortion, committed spousal abuse, and is a deadbeat dad. Maybe the disparity could be attributed to his multiple personality disorder. But, Walker says he has been treated for mental illness and “by the grace of God, I’ve overcome it.” No one is supposed to notice that some of those actions took place post-treatment, a fact that reveals Walker’s words of recovery and redemption to be more a matter of message discipline than a feel-good story worth admiring. Walker habitually invokes God and love-bombs inquisitors—“Bless you, love you”—as means of shutting down questions rather than answering them.

Voters have to reconcile Walker’s Janus faces for themselves. His political backers don’t even feel it necessary to try to square his words and his deeds. All that matters to them in the short term is that Walker, should he win, will be a Republican vote in the Senate.

But what about the long-term effect? Whether or not Walker wins, the GOP will have, by supporting him, implicitly endorsed abortion exceptions that have nothing to do with the life of the mother, rape, or incest. We might call it the Herschel Walker Abortion Exceptions Policy: Abortion is acceptable when it is for the convenience of the father, politics, and personal interest.

The Herschel Walker Abortion Exceptions Policy turns the old Democratic position about being “against abortion personally but pro-choice as a policymaker” on its head. Walker’s candidacy proves it’s just fine for a Republican to be personally in favor of abortion so long as he’s against it as a policymaker and willing to inflict standards on others he never heeded himself.

The gnarly question isn’t why anyone would actually believe anything Walker has to say anymore. It’s why Republicans think Walker would be more loyal to their values than he’s been to his children.

Walker denies the allegations of having paid for a girlfriend’s abortion procedure in the face of considerable evidence, which includes a receipt for the procedure, a signed get-well card, and a bank deposit slip with an image of a signed check from Walker.

Those receipts were dated September 2009. Walker would have been 47 at that time. He is said to have told the woman it was “not a good time” for a baby. In 2011, when he got her pregnant again, he reportedly urged her to get another abortion. She refused and gave birth to their son; she says that Walker’s involvement in the child’s life has amounted to little more than discharging the minimal court-ordered obligations. She claims Walker has only met their 10-year-old son three times, and two of those occasions were related to child-support hearings.

Recall that when previous stories broke about the secret children Walker fathered but never acknowledged, his staffers called him a “pathological liar” who lies “like he is breathing.”

And it’s not like family matters are the only issues Walker has lied about, although his other lies aren’t as malignant. He said he graduated in the top 1 percent of his class at the University of Georgia (he didn’t graduate), claimed he worked in law enforcement with the FBI (not true), said he owned successful companies that never existed, and told Howard Stern he’s only had sex with two women, even though the Daily Beast discovered he has “four known children, all from different mothers.”

Walker threatened an immediate lawsuit against the Daily Beast over its so-called “defamatory lie” about the abortion, but the suit hasn’t yet materialized. Walker has since adopted the O.J. Simpson defense, telling radio host Hugh Hewitt last Thursday that if he had paid “some alleged woman” for an abortion, he would have done so “because it’s nothing to be ashamed of there.”

Despite Walker’s denials and protestations, the woman stands by her story.

Given Walker’s messy family and personal history, it makes sense that his most prominent supporters make blanket partisan arguments about why Republican voters must stay on board.

The president of the Senate Leadership Fund, which has booked more than $34 million in ad money to boost Walker, said: “Full speed ahead in Georgia. This election is about the future of the country. Herschel Walker will make things better, Raphael Warnock is making it worse. Anything else is a distraction.”

National Right to Life issued a statement: “Herschel Walker wants to protect unborn children while Raphael Warnock wants to see them die through unlimited abortion.”

Conservative radio host and ex-NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch made these remarks, which were disturbing in their candor:

How many times have I said four very important words? These four words: winning is a virtue. . . . I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid to abort endangered baby eagles. I want control of the Senate. You’re telling me Walker used his money to reportedly pay some skank for an abortion, and [Sen. Raphael] Warnock wants to use all of our moneys to pay a whole bunch of skanks for abortions. . . . So, it doesn’t change anything for me!

Again, remember that that “skank” is the mother of one of Herschel Walker’s children.

Win or lose, Walker’s candidacy has warped the GOP in a way that even Donald Trump’s presidency did not. For all of Trump’s transgressions, the former president was never credibly accused of underwriting abortion and abandoning his children.

Walker’s son Christian—the son Walker has publicly claimed—has used his considerable social media platform to scathingly brand Walker a liar and call him out as an absentee father. The Daily Beast has since published recent text messages between Walker’s abortion accuser and his current wife discussing the abortion, although Walker has told the press has “no idea at all” who the woman is. (Got that?)

His abettors in the faith community, the media, and politics seem comfortable following Walker’s lead: They neglect and ignore the concerns of these women and children in pursuit of their political ambitions. Everyone seems perfectly content to buy Walker’s tale of redemption, with nary a care for those against whom he trespassed.

The New York Times reported that Family Research Council Action endorsed Walker on Friday amidst the turmoil. President Tony Perkins said Walker’s story “is about the power of grace, redemption, and the opportunity America still provides.”

Last week, Walker held an event at the First Baptist Church in Atlanta with around 75 “prayer warriors for Herschel” who laid hands upon him. Pastor Anthony George said:

Lord, we know this is a battle he’s facing. It’s more vicious than any sports field he’s ever played on. This is the fight of his life, holy God. We ask you to rebuke the devil. . . . Satan will not get the victory. We know, whatever the results of this election, Herschel wins.

Without addressing the controversy at hand, Walker assured them: “God has prepared me for a moment like this. I’ve got Jesus with me and no weapon formed against me shall prosper.”

Among those in the audience was the longtime social conservative activist Ralph Reed, who thinks the controversy may lead social conservatives to rally around Walker, and a leader from the MAGA-friendly America First Policy Institute. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. Rick Scott will be in Georgia on Tuesday to campaign for Walker, as will Sen. Tom Cotton.

Walker should consider himself blessed given such unprecedented, unwavering support, strange love as it is. The faith community, conservative media, and the GOP elites take him at his word. His obvious lies appear to be forgiven, although he’s never admitted to them, nor asked for absolution.

The reason is as sad as it is disturbing.

Walker means more to the GOP as an “R” vote in the Senate than Walker’s own family ever meant to him. For this, Walker will continue to be adored by professing to be the family man he’s not as his children remain spurned. GOP partisanship runs thicker than blood.

Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter is an author, a former communications director to Sen. Ted Cruz, and a former speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint. She was formerly a Bulwark political columnist.