Herschel Walker: football star-turned-senatorial candidate

The Trump-supporting Republican faces accusations of hypocrisy after allegedly paying for abortion

Herschel Walker speaks at a campaign event on 9 September, 2022 in Gwinnett, Georgia
(Image credit: Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Herschel Walker, the American football star turned senatorial candidate, is facing accusations of hypocrisy after it was claimed he paid for a former girlfriend to have an abortion, despite campaigning for a total ban on reproductive rights.

The Republican candidate, who is running for the US senate in Georgia at next month’s mid-terms, has said he wants to completely ban abortion, likening it to murder, and claiming there should be “no exception” for rape, incest, or the life of the mother.

But the Daily Beast has published claims from a woman who says Walker paid for her abortion when they were dating in 2009. The woman, who has not been named, has claimed the allegation was supported by a receipt showing a $575 payment for the procedure, along with a get-well card, purportedly from Walker.

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Who is Herschel Walker?

Brought up in a rural farm town about 140 miles southeast of Atlanta, Georgia, Walker won instant fame when he led his home state’s University of Georgia Bulldogs American football team to a national championship in 1982, taking the college game’s highest honour, the Heisman Trophy, before pursuing a successful NFL career.

Walker “is one of the most famous African Americans in Georgia’s history, a folk hero for legions of football fans”, said The New York Times, but is “unpopular with Black voters”.

This is because he represents “a relatively rare political being: he is a Black Republican who supports Donald Trump”, said Justin Glawe in a profile of Walker for The Guardian.

“African Americans are hesitant to say anything bad about Walker, but they are certainly not jumping at the chance to praise him,” said Glawe. “Whites, meanwhile, speak of Walker as the personification of the American Dream: he came from nothing, and now he’s something.”

How will the abortion allegation impact his chances?

Polls have Walker at just 2% behind incumbent Raphael Warnock, but these revelations that the anti-abortion champion could have paid for a termination risks derailing his campaign.

Asked why she came forward, the woman pointed to Walker’s hardline anti-abortion position.

“I just can’t with the hypocrisy any more,” she said. “We all deserve better.”

Walker denies the allegation, and on Fox News he called the story a “flat-out lie” and vowed to sue the Daily Beast for defamation.

However, the allegation “is the latest in a series of stories about the former football star’s past that have rocked the first-time candidate’s campaign in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country” reported The Guardian. ABC News said the latest report “came after torrents of other revelations – about questionable business ventures, fathering other children he didn’t previously acknowledge and allegations of domestic violence – that have concerned his fellow Republicans since before he won his primary”.

The allegation that Walker funded a girlfriend’s abortion seems to have been an open secret in some circles, while Walker’s eldest son, Christian, also appeared unsurprised at the revelations, tweeting:

“I know my mom and I would really appreciate if my father Herschel Walker stopped lying and making a mockery of us. You’re not a ‘family man’ when you left us to bang a bunch of women, threatened to kill us, and had us move over 6 times in 6 months running from your violence.”

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“What Herschel Walker has survived as a Senate candidate has already been remarkable,” said ABC News. “What Walker has to fend off and explain away from here will be another level entirely.”