Herschel Walker, a Republican candidate for the US Senate who has said he opposes abortion with no exceptions, has denied a media report that he paid for a girlfriend’s abortion in 2009.
Walker, who aims to unseat Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in Georgia, was responding to a report by The Daily Beast on Monday that said the candidate’s then-girlfriend provided a receipt for the procedure, a copy of a check from Walker and a get-well card given to her by the former football star.
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The woman, who asked not to be identified by the news outlet, said Walker encouraged her to end the pregnancy, saying that the time was not right for a baby, The Daily Beast reported.
“This is a flat-out lie – and I deny this in the strongest possible terms,” Walker, said in a statement late Monday that also said he would sue the outlet.
Matt Fuller, the politics editor for The Daily Beast, tweeted in response, “I can tell you we stand behind every word and feel very solid about the story.”
The report comes two weeks before early voting begins in Georgia, one of several critical races that will determine whether Democrats hold onto their narrow majority in the Senate. It is also the latest scandal for Walker, a first-time candidate for office who has also faced allegations of domestic violence.
Abortion looms large in the run-up to the November 8 midterm elections. In June, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that made abortion a federally protected right in the US.
The issue has taken centre stage in many Democratic campaigns. Democrats in Congress have been discussing codifying abortion rights into federal law, and they are hoping that women, younger voters, and people of colour would rally behind the issue.
As a Senate hopeful, Walker has supported a national ban on abortions with no exceptions for cases involving rape, incest or a woman’s health being at risk.
“I’m for life,” Walker has said repeatedly as he campaigns. When asked whether he would allow for any exceptions, he has said there are “no excuses” for the procedure.
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) October 3, 2022
As the Republican nominee, Walker has sidestepped many questions about his earlier support for a national abortion ban, instead trying to turn the issue against his Democratic rival, Senator Raphael Warnock, who supports abortion rights.
Walker, who has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, often characterised abortion as “a woman killing her baby” and has said he does not understand how Warnock, a Baptist pastor, can support the procedure being legal.
Campaigning in Dunwoody, an Atlanta suburb, on Monday night, Warnock stressed his support for abortion rights.
“I have a profound reverence for life. I have a deep and abiding respect for choice. I believe a patient’s room is too small and cramped a space for a woman, her doctor and the United States government,” he said, emphasising Walker’s support for a national ban.
Warnock was dismissive when told of The Daily Beast story and when asked whether it might affect the outcome in Georgia. “I’ll let the pundits decide,” he said.
One of Walker’s sons, conservative social media influencer Christian Walker, blasted his father following Monday’s report in a series of tweets, saying family members had asked him not to run for office “because we all knew [some of] his past”.
“I don’t care about someone who has a bad past and takes accountability. But how DARE YOU LIE and act as though you’re some ‘moral, Christian, upright man.’ You’ve lived a life of DESTROYING other peoples lives. How dare you.”
On Tuesday, he published a video lambasting his father.
“He has four kids, four different women – wasn’t in the house raising one of them,” he said.