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Stark contrasts in 8th District race over abortion, guns
By Eric Peterson | Daily Herald Staff

Melissa Bean


Joe Walsh


Bill Scheurer


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Published: 9/20/2010 4:33 PM | Updated: 9/20/2010 4:47 PM

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The divisive social policy issues of abortion, gun control and gay rights define some distinct differences among the three candidates of the 8th Congressional District.

Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean of Barrington supports a woman's right to choose.

Republican Joe Walsh of McHenry said he opposes abortion in every instance and would support any measure making legal abortions as restrictive as possible.

Green Party candidate Bill Scheurer of Lindenhurst said he opposes elective abortion as a means of birth control but supports "therapeutic" abortions authorized by a physician in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the mother's health.

Bean, first elected to the 8th congressional district in 2004, says her support of a woman's right to choose reflects the majority opinion in the 8th district.

"We so often look at these issues as black or white," when they often are not, Bean said. She said a woman diagnosed with cancer just before or after learning she is pregnant, now must weigh the dilemma of carrying the fetus to term against treating the cancer with chemo.

Scheurer said he supports educational measures that prevent the need for abortions as well as programs helping women cope with unwanted pregnancies.

On the issue of gun control, Scheurer supports the right of responsible gun owners to possess as many and whatever kinds of firearms they wish. He believes these rights should be revoked only for a person who's committed a violent crime with a firearm.

He and Bean disagree whether legislation governing gun ownership should be handled at the state or federal level.

Bean believes gun laws should be the province of state and local governments, while Scheurer sees that as a shirking of a federal responsibility.

Walsh, meanwhile, said he believes the Second Amendment is a citizen's most important right in that it draws a line between the individual and the government.

While most every candidate - including Bean - professes support for the Second Amendment, Walsh believes the only real test is getting behind conceal-and-carry laws, like he has.

Walsh says statistics show the number of violent crimes to be dramatically lower in states that allow conceal-and-carry. He believes Americans' right to bear arms is a deterrent to both terrorists as well as petty criminals.

On the question of gay marriage, Bean said that is an issue best handled by individual states. She supports Illinois' position of defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

However, she also supports equal treatment under the law and doesn't believe gay partnerships are legally shortchanged by civil unions.

Walsh opposes gay marriage. And while he believes openly gay people serving in the military is not in the military's best interest, he also believes the military should handle issues of protocol itself.

Bean, meanwhile, supports overturning "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which mandates terminating the service of people found to be gay.

Scheurer said civil unions as an alternative to gay marriage is a distinction without meaning or a violation of equal treatment under the law.

He said he considers homosexuals and Muslims to be two groups who still face legally permitted discrimination in the U.S. - discrimination that should be as comprehensively prohibited by law as discrimination based on race now is.

The 8th Congressional District includes portions of Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.