MADISON, Wis. —  Today, Politifact confirmed there is ample evidence showing Michels has a radical stance on abortion, fully supporting the 1849 ban that has zero exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Politifact noted Michels would even force a 12 year old pregnant rape victim to give birth, arguing her pregnancy was “created by God,” and has said it is “not unreasonable” to force pregant rape victims to give birth. 

Politifact said Michels has “long opposed adding exceptions for rape and incest into Wisconsin’s abortion ban” and despite his attempt to cover up his radical politics, “his campaign has said his personal beliefs on the issue remain the same.”

For the past two decades, Tim Michels has supported banning abortion access even in cases of rape or incest. He has even used his family’s foundation to fund extreme anti-abortion groups that track women using their cellphone data and support removing the “life of the mother” exception in the 1849 law. And since the beginning of his divisive campaign, he has described Wisconsin’s 1849 criminal abortion ban as an “exact mirror” of his position. 

When Michels recently made a pathetic attempt to hide his radical, no-exception positions on abortion as an effort to save his flailing campaign, Politifact gave him a “Full Flop” rating.

Read more about Tim Michels’ opposition to exceptions for abortions :

Politifact: Evers’ campaign mostly on track about Michels opposing rape, incest exceptions to abortion ban

The 2022 midterm elections are just weeks away, and abortion remains a centerpiece of candidates’ arguments. 

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ campaign released a dramatic TV ad on the subject aimed at Republican challenger Tim Michels. 

The 30-second spot, called “Twelve,” features several young girls of that age — who, as the ad points out, can’t legally drive a car or vote. 

“But if this little girl were tragically raped or a victim of incest and became pregnant, radical Tim Michels would force her to deliver the baby,” it says. 

It’s obviously an extreme example — but it points to Michels’ long-held opposition to creating rape and incest exceptions for Wisconsin’s abortion ban. 

So, is Evers right? 

Let’s dive in.

Michels opposed rape, incest exceptions, but recently backpedaled 
Over much of the course of his campaign for governor, as well as a run for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin in 2004, Michels has opposed making exceptions to the state’s abortion ban for people who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest. 

Some states’ bans allow abortion in those cases. Wisconsin’s, which was passed in 1849, does not. (That ban ostensibly took effect in late June, when Roe vs. Wade was overturned, though Evers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul have filed a lawsuit challenging it.) 

Here’s a look at times Michels said he opposed such exceptions: 

Perhaps the most pertinent to this claim: Michels said in 2004 on the Wisconsin Public Radio show Route 51 that the example of a 12-year-old who had gotten pregnant because she was raped would be the worst crime, but that “what I would try and tell them is: There’s a life in there, a life that was created by God. And if you carry that baby full term, there’ll be 25 or 35 couples that will be there ready and willing to adopt that baby.” (Michels’ team has noted that the quote is nearly 20 years old.) 

Also during his 2004 Senate run, when asked whether a woman who was raped and became pregnant should be forced to have the baby, Michels said: “To ask (a woman) to go through the birth is not unreasonable when you talk about killing the life of that baby.” 

In a June 2022 interview with WISN-TV, Michels said Wisconsin’s abortion ban is an “exact mirror” of his position, and even emphasized that he did not support rape or incest exceptions.

On Sept. 6, at a GOP event in Dane County, Michels said he’d been fielding calls from people who were suggesting he should support rape or incest exceptions, and declared he would not soften his stance.

He changed his tune in an appearance on WISN radio with conservative talk show host Dan O’Donnell on Sept. 23, saying he would sign legislation, if it was brought to his desk as governor, that would create rape and incest exceptions to Wisconsin’s abortion ban. 

“I am pro-life and I make no apologies for that,” Michels told O’Donnell. “But I also understand that this is a representative democracy. And if the people — in this case, the Legislature — brought a bill before me, as you just stated, I would sign that.” 

We rated it as a “Full Flop” on PolitiFact’s Flip-O-Meter.

That would put a bit of a dent in Evers’ claim that Michels would force a 12-year-old to give birth in such situations. 

But although there has been some interest in the Republican-controlled Legislature in passing a bill with rape and incest exceptions, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has said legislation addressing that is unlikely. So while Michels responded to the theoretical possibility, the more likely scenario is that the status quo remains — and he has not indicated he personally would work to advance such exceptions.

In fact, after Michels said he’d sign a bill allowing them, his campaign staff repeatedly said his personal beliefs on the subject hadn’t changed — that is, that he still doesn’t personally support them. 

Our ruling 
The television ad from Evers’ campaign said Michels would force a 12-year-old girl to give birth if she became pregnant as a result of rape or incest. 

Michels long opposed adding exceptions for rape and incest into Wisconsin’s abortion ban, though he recently said he’d sign a bill adding them. But that scenario appears unlikely, and his campaign has said his personal beliefs on the issue remain the same. 

We rate this claim Mostly True. 

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