Tim Michels supports legislation to ban abortions with rape, incest exceptions after years of opposition

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Republican governor candidate Tim Michels said he'd support legislation to ban abortions with exceptions, even though he’s voiced opposition to changing the state's 1849 law that prohibits all abortions unless a mother's life is at risk.

On a conservative radio show, Michels said he would sign a bill banning abortions including exceptions for rape and incest if elected.

"Yes, I would sign that bill," Michels said on the Dan O'Donnell Show. "I am pro-life and make no apologies for that, but I also understand that this is a representative democracy. And, if the people -- in this case the Legislature -- brought a bill before me, I would sign it."

Earlier this year, Michels told WISN's "UpFront" he's against providing exceptions to Wisconsin's 173-year-old criminal abortion law, calling it "an exact mirror of his position," which only allows the procedure if a mother's life is in danger.

Michels, who's seeking to unseat Democratic Governor Tony Evers, has campaigned for months that he wouldn't support exceptions and recently said at a Dane County GOP event he wouldn't "soften his stance" on abortion.

During his remarks, Michels also noted people have asked him to "be for exception of rape and incest."

On Sept. 6. Michels said, "You'd be amazed at the people that have called me up, I won't give you their names, but you would know their names, that say Tim, you have to soften your stance, you need to be for the exception of rape and incest as well."

Evers is suing to block the 1849 abortion law and a spokeswoman for his campaign criticized Michels for being "dishonest" on abortion policy.

“Wisconsin voters are smart enough to see through Tim Michels’ dishonest attempt to hide his radical views on abortion, including his clear support for a ban that contains no exception for rape or incest," said Kayla Anderson, an Evers campaign spokeswoman.

Michels, the co-owner of a Brownsville construction company, has also donated to Pro-life Wisconsin, a group that lobbies for a total ban on abortions without exceptions.

Anna Kelly, a spokeswoman for Michels' campaign, did not respond to questions why Michels has changed his position. Instead, Kelly said in a statement:

"Tony Evers hasn’t been vocal on whether he supports any abortion restrictions at all or supports abortion on-demand up until the moment of birth."

In a tweet, Evers said, "I have been firm in my support for abortion rights. Tim Michels has been clear that he supports a criminal ban on abortion, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or health of a mother — we cannot let this divisive and radical candidate win."

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