Jack Willke, Rape Theory Doctor, is Major Anti-Abortion Leader, Embraced in 2007 by Romney
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 12:43:00 PM EST
Rep. Todd Akin's medieval and unscientific theory that "legitimate rapes" rarely result in pregnancy has been promoted by John "Jack" Willke, a Catholic octogenarian and former doctor, well known in anti-abortion activism. Willke's resumé includes:
Photobucket-president of the National Right to Life Committee for a decade
-member of the secretive Council for National Policy
-founder of Life Issues Institute in Cincinnati and Ohio Right to Life
-co-founder and current president of the International Right to Life Federation*
He and his wife were on the cover of the Catholic magazine for business leaders, Legatus, in 2009 with the caption "Living Legends: Pro-Life Pioneers Dr. Jack and Barbara Willke," and he was profiled in a regional Catholic publication in March 2012. He has been featured with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop (Reagan administration) in anti-abortion videos marketed across the nation, and Willke is described in Ohio's Heartbeat Bill media as the "Founder of the Right-to-Life Movement."  In 2007, the Mitt Romney campaign welcomed the endorsement of Dr. Willke, describing him as, "an important surrogate for Governor Romney's pro-life and pro-family agenda."
Romney responded to Willke's endorsement,
"I am proud to have the support of a man who has meant so much to the pro-life movement in our country," Romney said in a statement at the time. "He knows how important it is to have someone in Washington who will actively promote pro-life policies. Policies that include more than appointing judges who will follow the law but also opposing taxpayer funded abortion and partial birth abortion. I look forward to working with Dr. Willke and welcome him to Romney for President."

Jack Willke may not be a household name, but he is a major figure behind the scenes in the anti-abortion movement and featured in media promoted by activist organizations in states across the nation. He was founder of Ohio Right to Life and president from 1981 to 1983 and 1984 to 1991 of the National Right to Life Committee, which has affiliates in 50 states and over 3000 chapters.

Photobucket He is featured in the video "Pro-Life Doctors Speak Out" with former surgeon general C. Everett Koop and Dr. Bernard Nathanson, described as a "powerful presentation of the basic medical arguments against abortion."

President George H. W. Bush recognized Willke when speaking to the "Rally for Life" in 1990 by phone from the White House.  The transcript is available through the George Bush  Presidential Library.

Well, thank you, Henry Hyde. Thank you for the introduction, and thank you, as well, for your commitment to life. Incidentally, this magnificent rally looks very, very good on television. How do I know? Because I've seen some of it.
I want to pay my respects to our able Vice President, Dan Quayle -- thank him for his commitment -- to other Members of Congress that are there, to Dr. Willke, to Dr. Dobson, and a special greeting to my friend -- Your Eminences Cardinal O'Connor and Cardinal Hickey and others that might be in attendance.
Video of the event is still advertised on anti-abortion activist websites under the name "Rally for Life 90" and as "having been ignored by the media."

Willke is also featured in "The Hidden Holocaust" described as,

"...featuring Christian commentator Charles Colson, Dr. C. Everett Koop, NRLC President Dr. John Willke, Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Jeremiah Denton, plus many others. Suitable for junior high age and older."

Willke is the voice behind "Life Jewels," short commentaries for radio that were broadcast over a period of 18 years, according to his Life Issues website, "on over 1,000 stations in English and Spanish, with 50 in Australia, 30 in South Africa and many stations in Brazil."

"Since 1984, hundreds of Christian radio stations (and a few secular ones) have been airing Dr. Willke's five-minute daily commentary. For 12 years Dr. Willke has informed and educated hundreds of millions of listeners to the reality and after-effects of abortion. As a result, people are changing the way they view abortion in our society today.

Nearly 1,000 CDs were sent to Christian radio stations, free of charge, and the response from the radio broadcasting industry has been overwhelmingly positive. Life Jewels has filled a need of sound educational information where there has previously been none. The CD format is very user friendly, and as a result, station personnel are airing the spots multiple times each day, educating a new audience every time."

Willke described the March of Dimes as "a little eugenics Auschwitz," as quoted by Chuck Colson in articles calling for readers to quit contributing to the organization because they have centers for genetic testing for birth defect in utero.

The opening page of the website for the "Heartbeat Bill," being promoted to "end almost every abortion in Ohio," prominently features a link to "Dr. Willke's Hard-Hitting Ad." That links to,

"Open Letter from Dr. Jack Willke Who Founded the Right to Life Movement Forty Years Ago"
The letter begins,
Many of you know me as founder and longtime president of Ohio Right to Life, National Right to Life, and International Right to Life. I am now 87 years old and thought I would not live to see the end of abortion. However, since passage of the Heartbeat Bill (H.B. 125) in the Ohio House, I have renewed hope.
Photobucket

Willke has provided testimony to the House in support of the bill. Next to the letter are the names of the Ohio supporters in addition to the 53 Ohio state representatives co-sponsoring the bill, and request for supporters to contact Ohio senators.  The bill would criminalize an abortion of any fetus with a detectable heartbeat.  Some supporters of "Personhood" bills have claimed that the Heartbeat Bill does not go far enough, because it allows for abortions to save the life of the mother and does not call for murder charges for the mother.

Dr. Willke was near the top of the list of the signers of the letter to the U.S. Congress in 2011 calling on the GOP to refuse to compromise on the defunding of Planned Parenthood.  Willke signed as president of the International Right to Life Federation, following just behind the signer representing the Susan B. Anthony List, Lila Rose, and signers representing the Family Research Council and Concerned Women of America.

Dr. Willke expounded on his theory that rape seldom results in pregnancy in his writings, including a 1999 article in his Life Issues Connector titled "Rape Pregnancies Are Rare."  Willke's claims have been refuted by studies, including those used by the CDC, which show that about 5% of rapes result in pregnancy.

Other politicians have promoted this pseudo-science, including former Pennsylvania State Rep. Stephen Freind who told an interviewer in 1988 that the odds of rape resulting in pregnancy was "are one in millions and millions and millions." Freind stated that he got the information from Dr. Fred Mecklenburg. According to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mecklenburg was the author of "Abortion and Social Justice" funded by Brent Bozell's Americans United for Life and included conclusions by Mecklenburg taken from tests done by Nazi doctors on women in concentration camps.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch article also points out,

The dissemination of Mecklenburg's article may have had more to do with the influence of the doctor's wife, Marjory, an early opponent of abortion rights who was a chairwoman of the National Right to Life Committee, an adviser to Gerald Ford's 1976 presidential campaign and director of the Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs in the administration of President Ronald Reagan.
Jack Willke, mentioned briefly at the end of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, was a major figure at the National Right to Life Committee including his terms as president and continues to be very active in anti-abortion activism as president of the International Right to Life Federation.

The 2012 Republican Party platform reportedly calls for a constitutional ban on abortion with no stated exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. GOP Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan co-sponsored Personhood-style legislation with Todd Akin titled the Sanctity of Human Life Act 2009, which declared that human life begins at fertilization and would have given states the right to criminalize all abortions with no exceptions and possibly criminalized some forms of birth control.  

The Romney-Ryan campaign would like for Rep. Todd Akin and his medieval ideas to appear to be an anomaly, but the use of pseudo-science to promote extreme ideology is widespread throughout the party on this and other issues.  It's much easier to criminalize all abortions, even in the case of rape, if you have voters that believe "legitimate rape" does not result in pregnancies.

*Willke recently retired from his position as president of the International Right to Life Federation. He is still listed as president on the website.

Article updated after posting with additional information from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.




Display:
According to Willke, Romney met with him last year and they "agree on almost everything." Romney's campaign says they do not agree on Willke's rape theory.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-election/9493653/US- election-Mitt-Romney-met-Todd-Akin-doctor-Jack-Willke-during-2012 -campaign.html

by Rachel Tabachnick on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 06:05:28 PM EST


is their refusal to allow for the life of the mother. I realize that for these people, a woman is nothing but a broodmare, but even mares are given abortions if their (monetarily valuable) lives are in danger. That must mean that women have no value at all! Just like Martin Luther said. Even so, if a woman is denied an abortion at the point of a detectable heartbeat, BOTH the woman and the fetus will die. God's will, eh? Well, then, I think men with cancer have got it because of God's will, and they should not be treated. I am seriously afraid for our country, and especially for young people who have to live with this ... stuff. I'm long past reproduction, but it still chills me to the bone.

by phatkhat on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 06:54:00 PM EST
a 1500 word essay written by Paul Ryan about abortion.  She said he never mentioned the word "woman" or "mother" in the paper.  Goldberg said, "To him, a woman's claim to bodily autonomy or self-determination doesn't merit even cursory consideration."

And something else I just read...

Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder called Jack Willke a "world hero," when Willke spoke to the Ohio House last year.

http://www.plunderbund.com/2012/08/21/speaker-batchelder-calls-do ctor-who-popularized-rape-doesnt-cause-pregnancy-theory-a-world-h ero/

by Rachel Tabachnick on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 07:16:17 PM EST
Parent



I went to the site and read Ryan's essay to confirm that he does not mention "woman", "mother", or any flowery variant for a woman of reproductive age. However, Ryan did mention a "widow" having rights, as compared with one of his automobiles. Ryan probably believes that the chief characteristic of the "widow" as opposed to "wife" is that the widow is no longer subject to her husband/owner and therefore has some independence, whereas the wife is property without rights (couverture).

As for the men not allowing abortion to save the life of the mother - hey, the men can't divorce, but can get a younger trophy wife if wife #1 is dead.

I could wish for a Haggard-gate, but Ryan doesn't look like he has enough libido in him to stray.

by NancyP on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 06:45:44 PM EST
Parent

I somehow missed this.  In an interview with the UK's Telegraph, Dr. Willke is quoted as saying that he has met with Paul Ryan several times.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Fri Aug 24, 2012 at 02:46:20 PM EST
Parent



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